Five years ago, I mentioned that one of my favorite Jazz musicians to chill out to was Dave Brubeck. he passed away this week a day shy of his 92nd birthday. 

Even if you don’t know Brubeck, you probably know of him via the song Take Five. It was on the album Time Out, which was the first million selling jazz disc.

Take Five may be the single best known Jazz recording of all time (argue amongst yourselves as to  whats better known).

Brubeck is one of those rare musicians where you can just about randomly select anything he’s recorded — and its all pretty great. Its perfect music to just kick back and relax to.

If you want some suggestions, I consider these my favorite Brubeck albums:

Time Out
Concord on a Summer Night
Jazz at Oberlin
Live at the Berlin Philharmonie
Jazz at the College of the Pacific

I even find his “goofy fun stuff” terrific — check out Quiet as the Moon. It is his “Peanuts inspired” work, and except for a song or two, its not the actual Peanuts music (that was Vince Guaraldi doing the actual Peanuts recording, A Boy Named Charlie Brown).

Also worth checking out are Dave Digs Disney and Brubeck Plays Music From West Side Story. Simple, fun stuff.



See also:

His Music Gave Jazz New Pop (NYT Obit)

Pianist behind one of the world’s most famous jazz tunes takes his final five (Indepedent)

When the World Was ‘Mad About Brubeck’: Dave Brubeck (Stop the Presses)

Friday Night Jazz: Gerry Mulligan II (May 23, 2008)



videos after the jump


Take Five

Blue Rondo A La Turk

St Louis Blues 1961


Other Videos Worth Checking Out:

Blue Rondo a la Turk

Kathy’s Waltz

Sounds of the Loop – 1964

St Louis Blues Brubeck Dave 1961

Strange Meadow Lark



Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

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18 Responses to “Friday Night Jazz: Remembering Dave Brubeck”

  1. Redcoat75 says:

    A more famous jazz recording than Take Five? Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Of course, this time of year, you seem to hear it quite a bit…

  2. Jack Damn says:

    One of my favorites is “Koto Song”:

  3. ConscienceofaConservative says:

    “Take Five” is what got me hooked on jazz. I was only in a high school music appreciation class, but that was all it took.

  4. Porsche87 says:

    Blue Rondo a la Turk hooked me. I came across it on one of my brother’s albums while I was in high school and listened to it daily one summer.

  5. S Brennan says:

    From yesterday’s FB entry,

    I’ve been listening to this man’s music since I was a tiny child. I know of no other music in my time that has traveled so well, for so long over the changing terrain of the 20th century.

  6. george lomost says:

    Thank God MP3s don’t wear out. Great post Barry.

  7. rd says:


    I agree on “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, specifically “Linus and Lucy”. As with “Take Five”, most people don’t even realize that they are listening to real jazz when they hear these pieces.

    I played “Blue Rondo al a Turk” and “Take Five” for a 24 year old engineer at work this week and he recognized both of them instantly within a couple of bars. He had no idea who Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond were. Similarly, everybody can recognize Vince Guaraldi’s work from the Peanuts shows but most have never actually heard of the person who created the work.

  8. rd says:

    BTW, most reports have focused on his music, but he was also an early civil rights pioneer. He had an Army band at the end of WW II that had both blacks and whites in it and his quartet had a black bassist in the 1950s and early 60s which meant that they could not play a number of venues that were segregated. He did this very quietly, but this was clearly against the grain of the time. I understand that they needed police escorts for playing some gigs.


    BR: The NYT Obit goes into that a bit… part of the reason he toured colleges

  9. jaymaster says:

    As far as the “single best known jazz song of all time goes”, I could argue it depends on your definition of jazz.

    Going back to big band, swing, Dixieland, and ragtime, there are probably good arguments to be made about lots of songs.

    And I can think of some other popular jazz songs from Dave’s time period, and even some from the 60’s and 70’s that are arguably more well known.

    But I ain’t gonna go there right now.

    Dave Brubeck was so special, I don’t want to detract from focusing on his music this weekend.

  10. spooz says:

    When I hear Take Five, I remember staying to watch The Late Show when I was a little kid. WGN Channel 9 in Chicago had it as the theme song. I didn’t know it was Brubeck until years later.

    Naked Capitalism posted a link to The Independent’s piece on Brubeck:

    NC commenter Goin’ South responded:

    “One thing not included in the article is the fact that Brubeck was in a car accident that severely damaged his hands early in his career. His dexterity was quite limited, and while he could still ‘comp, intricate, melodic improvisations were out of the question. That’s why Brubeck developed his distinctive style emphasizing those massive block chords. It also explains why Desmond was so critical to Brubeck’s success.”


    BR: Nice! I read that and meant to post, but spaced on where it was. I’ll add above.

  11. steveg62 says:

    The first stereo record I bought was Dave Brubeck’s Greatest Hits. I still have it and listened to it last night – it still sounds great.

  12. intlacct says:

    Plus, he was white. If we’ve learned nothing from the last four years, we’ve learned the value of that.

  13. tsokol1 says:

    One of my first “modern” jazz albums was Brubeck’s “Jazz Goes To College” in 1954. I was 15 and it opened me up to “cool jazz”. Prior to that I was mostly attracted to Dixieland and small group straight ahead swing.

    You could almost say Brubeck was a “gateway drug”. Soon afterward I was hooked on Bird, Mulligan, all the various be-bop folks, along with the emerging “East Coast” style that became “hard bop”. “West Coast” cool was never a bad word for me. Hamp Hawes, Sonny Criss, etc.

    Now, I’ve gone back to some bop stuff I’d almost forgotten — Wardell Gray, Dexter gordon (who I tended to overlook), etc.

    It’s interesting to listen to Bird and realize it hasn’t ;ost anything over the years.

    there’s just so much Jazz to listen to, so many different threads, styles, individuals. A never ending source of joy.

    Then again, a great musician once told me any good player can play with any other good player — and, he said, there are more good players today than ever before. Perhaps my love of some of the old stuff is just a way to pretend (for a few moments) I’m young again.

  14. tsokol1 says:

    By the way, isn’t it interesting folks mentioned “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo” — but no one mentioned Joe Morello, his drummer for so many years. Morello was another genius who could play all those different time signatures and make stuff swing. He and Gene Wright the bassist helped make THE Dave Brubeck Quartet so successful.

  15. WaltFrench says:

    “Take Five may be the single best known Jazz recording of all time (argue amongst yourselves as to whats better known).”

    That sounds right. But Miles’s All Blues, from Kind of Blue is probably the most-heard (and recognized and appreciated) jazz song. Wikipedia says it’s the best-selling jazz album & I wouldn’t argue.

    None of this to take away from how breathtaking Brubeck was then, how he opened up a new dimension of playfulness and extended it his whole life. Nor is the fact that Brubeck says he asked Desmond to write Take Five after he heard him doodling around with Morello’s playing 5/4 rhythms on drum pads while waiting to go onstage.

  16. Orange14 says:

    Time Out was the very first jazz LP that I purchased and it was (and still is) a very approachable introduction to this genre. I quickly accumulated most if not all of the Brubeck albums but found myself moving on to John Coltrane and Miles Davis who I felt were more innovative (Miles Davis’s Disney recording is far superior to Brubeck’s). I use Coltrane’s introduction to ‘A Love Supreme’ as my ring tone!!

    Regarding the best known jazz recording of all time, maybe so but the Getz/Gilberto ‘Girl from Ipanema’ is close, making it to the top ten pop songs when released and winning a grammy. The song has since been covered by lots of jazz singers but nobody has reinterpreted ‘Take Five.’

  17. Clay says:

    I was fortunate enough to see Brubeck and his quartet perform many years ago (mid 70′s?) at WCU. I think one of the music professors there knew him and arranged the performance. I couldn’t wait to hear “Take Five”, which was finally played at the end of their performance LOL. They received a standing ovation. As I recall, I enjoyed the band members’ improvisations very much.

  18. Joe says:

    Check out Tritonis, about 1980. I’ve got it on vinyl. It can be found on CD…. but. Dave havin’ fun with the kids and laying down some smokin’ fun tracks.