15 Songs, 1 Hour 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s ironic that in Dave Brubeck’s attempt to make jazz more complex, he actually made it more accessible. Time Out, his 1959 foray into odd time signatures, polyrhythm, and mixed meter, not only ended up going platinum and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts, but it also yielded jazz’s best-selling single of all time: “Take Five.” Written by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, the tune had a novel 5/4 groove but ultimately came to be identified with a kind of inoffensive hotel lounge jazz. Yet as avant-garde cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum wrote in The New Yorker shortly after Brubeck’s death in 2012, “Those musicians, too hip for their own good, who dismiss Brubeck as square do so at their own loss.” Time Out and the rest of the quartet’s “time” concept albums (Time Further Out, Time Changes, Countdown: Time in Outer Space, Time In) merit close attention as some of the most engaging and unique small-group jazz of the era.

The impetus for the rhythms of Time Out came in part from Western classical music, in part from the band’s travels in India, the Middle East, and elsewhere. The fast and asymmetrical pulse of “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” the opening track, bore traces of Balkan and Turkish influence. Yet the quartet exhibited a developed sense of swing thanks to bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. Brubeck’s piano was steeped in blues and had a palpable connection to stomp, boogie-woogie, and earlier jazz styles. His approach was eclipsed by the lithe modernism of McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, but in terms of musical content and personality, Brubeck stands the test of time. So does Desmond, whose boundlessly lyrical, almost clarinet-like alto sax improvisations epitomized the softer timbre and relaxed vibe of West Coast jazz. That Desmond alto, underscored by Morello’s brushes on snare drum, remains one of the most identifiable sounds in jazz.

There is also more to Time Out than “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” the blockbuster tracks. “Strange Meadow Lark” has a beautiful out-of-tempo piano intro and a goosebump-worthy Desmond entrance. “Three to Get Ready,” “Kathy’s Waltz,” and “Pick Up Sticks” are built on well-crafted rhythmic conceits that prompt solid performances across the board. “Everybody’s Jumpin’” is fetching as well, with its sleek modernist glide (Brubeck and his lyricist wife Iola soon reworked the song as “Everybody’s Comin’,” the lively opening number of The Real Ambassadors, their satirical musical revue on the topic of jazz and Cold War diplomacy).

Steve Race’s original Time Out liner notes slip at times into reductive overpraise of the Brubeck quartet as somehow singlehandedly keeping jazz rhythm interesting. It’s a narrative with more than a hint of white saviorism, and it looks especially silly in light of all the other jazz innovation occurring in 1959. But Brubeck didn’t make such lofty claims himself—he followed his imagination and arrived at a sound that was thoroughly his own.

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s ironic that in Dave Brubeck’s attempt to make jazz more complex, he actually made it more accessible. Time Out, his 1959 foray into odd time signatures, polyrhythm, and mixed meter, not only ended up going platinum and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard pop charts, but it also yielded jazz’s best-selling single of all time: “Take Five.” Written by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, the tune had a novel 5/4 groove but ultimately came to be identified with a kind of inoffensive hotel lounge jazz. Yet as avant-garde cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum wrote in The New Yorker shortly after Brubeck’s death in 2012, “Those musicians, too hip for their own good, who dismiss Brubeck as square do so at their own loss.” Time Out and the rest of the quartet’s “time” concept albums (Time Further Out, Time Changes, Countdown: Time in Outer Space, Time In) merit close attention as some of the most engaging and unique small-group jazz of the era.

The impetus for the rhythms of Time Out came in part from Western classical music, in part from the band’s travels in India, the Middle East, and elsewhere. The fast and asymmetrical pulse of “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” the opening track, bore traces of Balkan and Turkish influence. Yet the quartet exhibited a developed sense of swing thanks to bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. Brubeck’s piano was steeped in blues and had a palpable connection to stomp, boogie-woogie, and earlier jazz styles. His approach was eclipsed by the lithe modernism of McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, but in terms of musical content and personality, Brubeck stands the test of time. So does Desmond, whose boundlessly lyrical, almost clarinet-like alto sax improvisations epitomized the softer timbre and relaxed vibe of West Coast jazz. That Desmond alto, underscored by Morello’s brushes on snare drum, remains one of the most identifiable sounds in jazz.

There is also more to Time Out than “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” the blockbuster tracks. “Strange Meadow Lark” has a beautiful out-of-tempo piano intro and a goosebump-worthy Desmond entrance. “Three to Get Ready,” “Kathy’s Waltz,” and “Pick Up Sticks” are built on well-crafted rhythmic conceits that prompt solid performances across the board. “Everybody’s Jumpin’” is fetching as well, with its sleek modernist glide (Brubeck and his lyricist wife Iola soon reworked the song as “Everybody’s Comin’,” the lively opening number of The Real Ambassadors, their satirical musical revue on the topic of jazz and Cold War diplomacy).

Steve Race’s original Time Out liner notes slip at times into reductive overpraise of the Brubeck quartet as somehow singlehandedly keeping jazz rhythm interesting. It’s a narrative with more than a hint of white saviorism, and it looks especially silly in light of all the other jazz innovation occurring in 1959. But Brubeck didn’t make such lofty claims himself—he followed his imagination and arrived at a sound that was thoroughly his own.

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
115 Ratings
115 Ratings
jazzman31 ,

50 Years On...

...and one of the finest Jazz recordings ever is still going strong. Throw in the live "previously unreleased" tracks and Time Out is well worth buying all over again. If you've never treated yourself to this gem, now is the perfect time to do so. 1959 was a landmark year in jazz with some legendary releases (Coltrane's "Giant Steps", Miles' "Kind of Blue" and Coleman's "Shape of Jazz to Come") and Brubeck's Time Out easily holds its own amongst these jazz giants. Sit back, relax and Take Five.

gwanaman ,

These are not the original takes...

I will never dispute the greatness and the importance of Time Out. My rating does not reflect my opinion of the album per se, it's just that the 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition is not the same Time Out you may have heard...

Sony screwed up when they released this. These are not the original takes that Brubeck and Desmond selected for release. Blue Rondo a la Turk, for example, is riddled with small technical playing errors that do not appear on the original LP or the earlier CD releases. Click on the Blue Rondo sample above, for example. You can hear saxophonist Paul Desmond "frack" one and a half seconds in. That did not appear on the original release! Later in the track, you can even hear errors by Brubeck. I could go on to point out several errors in other tracks, but what's the point? It's out there now and Sony doesn't care because it sold and still sells.

It's too bad, though, that the original tracks that Mr. Brubeck and the band intended will fade away in some corporate warehouse somewhere...

Again, these are not the original takes that Brubeck and Desmond selected for release - and there is NO indication by Sony in the liner notes that this is a release of alternate takes!

The live stuff is terrific, however.

Don't get me wrong, Time Out a great album and an enjoyable listen... This, however, is not the recording you have originally heard. Look for a used LP or early cd copy somewhere, if you are looking for the purity of the original release.

If you don't care, get this one. It's good, and easily worth the $7.99. But shame on Sony for screwing this one up! And for the album's 50th Anniversary!

chocoalicia ,

Classic!

This is an incredible album, a must own for any jazz enthusiast (or even if you aren't a jazz fan, if you own one jazz album it should be this one!)

More By The Dave Brubeck Quartet

You May Also Like