“Take Five” is the biggest selling Jazz single of all time, and quite possibly the most famous Jazz song ever…
The song was composed by Paul Desmond, the Quartet’s saxophonist, and is notable for being written in 5/4 time.
Although some songs that use unusual or non-Western time signatures can make for odd listening, the “Take Five” is immediately likeable, with a famous saxophone riff, some funky piano chords, and a highly swung rhythm section.
The inspiration for the weird time signature is reputed to be from when Dave Brubeck heard some Turkish musicians playing an old folk song with a different time signature.
Later Free Jazz musicians could sometimes treat time signatures very loosely, but at the time it was quite novel, and for the song be such a hit attests to the power of the melodies and rhythms involved. There’s a killer drum solo as well!
That said, the song was slept on a bit for a couple of years after its 1959 release, only becoming a hit in ’61.
Because the royalties from Paul Desmond’s music were left to the American Red Cross when he died, they still make a lot of money from it. That’s lovely.
This will always be a stone cold classic…