Few albums in jazz history are as giant as the Dave Brubeck
Quartet's Time Out
(Columbia, 1959). Deftly balancing experimentation with accessibility and containing amongst its many pleasures one of the most thrilling drum solos ever recorded, Time Out
has become so familiar to us that the magnitude of its greatness has become near inaudible.
So an album of previously unheard out-takes is an event. Even if all the tracks turned out to be dogs, the disc would still be of interest. It is no exaggeration, however, to say that the three most important tracks on Time OutTakes
"Take Five," "Blue Rondo A La Turk" and "Cathy's Waltz"are within a whisker (or two) of the brilliance of the originals. The other alternates from the 1959 album, "Strange Meadowlark" and "Three To Get Ready," are no slouches either. And as a further bonus, there are two previously unissued tunes from the original sessions ("I'm In A Dancing Mood" and "Watusi Jam"), plus just under five minutes of "studio banter."
The five alternate takes are presented in the same order as on the original album. So we kick off with "Blue Rondo A La Turk," which contains another steaming, two-fisted solo from Brubeck. The original clocked in at 6:44, the new version is 8:52, and the extended solo section allows Brubeck to play over ten choruses of electrifying blues-meets-the-souk which are wholly different to the solo on the 1959 album. At 5:47, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond
's "Take Five" is only a few seconds longer than on Time Out
but his own and Joe Morello
's solos are radically different. Morello's 1959 solo endures as a model of restraint and the use of space, both employed to generate tension. The newly issued take is, by contrast, a full-on frontal assault on the drum kit with Latin/Afro-Cuban touches. It is almost as compelling as the solo on the previously released version. "Cathy's Waltz" is relatively close to 1959's "Kathy's Waltz," but has fresh minted solos from Brubeck and Desmond. "Strange Meadowlark" and "Three To Get Ready" are worth hearing, too, with Desmond shining particularly brightly on "Meadowlark." Time Out
's last two tunes, "Everybody's Jumpin'" and "Pick Up Sticks," are not covered on the new album. Their replacements are Al Goodhart's Broadway evergreen "I'm In A Dancing Mood," a party piece from the Quartet's TV repertoire, performed with a quick-change sequence of styles and tempos, and the gutsy "Watusi Jam," created on the spur of the moment by Brubeck, Morello and bassist Eugene Wright
while they were waiting for Desmond to arrive at the studio. It contains another outstanding Morello solo. Time OutTakes
is released on December 4 2020 (two days shy of Brubeck's centenary). Christmas is coming early.
Blue Rondo A La Turk; Strange Meadowlark; Take Five; Three To Get Ready; Cathy's Waltz; I'm In A
Dancing Mood; Watusi Jam; Band Banter.