I’ve already pooped with doors open, sneezed on desk tops, farted in swivel chairs and dragged my…well, never mind. You get the idea. Basically I’m doing everything I couldn’t do had someone else been here today and that includes playing my Jazz Boner on full volume.
Next up then is the ‘Time Out‘ album by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
Essentially, this was the soundtrack of New York City’s bachelor pads in the 60’s and, ultimately Dave’s defining masterpiece.
‘Time Out‘ is one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history, the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time. It was a risky move – Brubeck’s record company wasn’t keen on releasing such an arty project, and many critics initially roasted him for tampering with jazz’s rhythmic foundation. But for once, public taste was more advanced than that of the critics.
Buoyed by a hit single in altoist Paul Desmond’s ubiquitous ‘Take Five‘, this album became an unexpectedly huge success, and still ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. That’s a testament to Brubeck and Desmond’s abilities as composers, because ‘Time Out‘ is full of challenges both subtle and overt – it’s just that they’re not jarring. Brubeck’s classic ‘Blue Rondo à la Turk‘ blends jazz with classical form and Turkish folk rhythms, while ‘Take Five‘, despite its overexposure, really is a masterpiece; listen to how well Desmond’s solo phrasing fits the 5/4 meter, and how much Joe Morello’s drum solo bends time without getting lost.
The other selections are richly melodic as well, and even when the meters are even, the group sets up shifting poly-rhythmic counterpoints that nod to African and Eastern musics. Some have come to disdain ‘Time Out‘ as its become increasingly synonymous with upscale coffeehouse ambience, but as someone once said of Shakespeare, “it’s really very good in spite of the people who like it”. It doesn’t just sound sophisticated – it really is sophisticated music, which lends itself to cerebral appreciation, yet never stops swinging. Countless other musicians built on its pioneering experiments, yet it’s amazingly accessible for all its advanced thinking, a rare feat in any art form.
This belongs in even the most rudimentary jazz collection and something I will also need to hunt out eventually.