• Simon Rushby

Take Five by Dave Brubeck, as played by Michel Camilo

#listeneveryday 22 Feb 2021

Take Five appeared on Dave Brubeck's 1959 album Time Out, released in the same year as Giant Steps by John Coltrane and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, who featured on #listeneveryday last week. Brubeck and his quartet had been experimenting with unusual rhythms and metres for a time and drummer Joe Morello was bugging Brubeck for a new composition in 5/4 time. Eventually saxophonist Paul Desmond said he would write one, and the quartet worked it out in the studio once Desmond had come up with the two main sax licks. The story goes that it took them a large number of takes to nail the rhythm.

Take Five has become Brubeck's most famous tune, and there have been many versions of it. This one comes from Michel Camilo, one of my favourite pianists, who demonstrates his phenomenal ability to improvise sparkling melodic lines while staying true to the original and keeping a rock-solid 5/4 groove going in his left hand. Born in the Dominican Republic, Camilo is known for his virtuosity and normally specialises in Latin styles, influenced by artists such as the late, great Chick Corea. I hope you enjoy watching Camilo play as much as I do!


More to listen to

The original Take Five, as performed by the Dave Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond on saxophone.







One of the first Camilo performances I watched online was this one, at the North Sea Jazz Festival with Anthony Jackson on bass and Horacio Hernandez on drums. See if you can catch Hernandez's left foot maintaining a steady 3+2 Caribbean clave rhythm, despite all the fireworks going on around the ensemble.


I'll include a proper tribute to Chick Corea later, but here's a clip of the much missed piano legend, melding together Mozart and Gershwin.


A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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