With The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time box set, Sony Music have done a nice job of repackaging five of his classic early sixties albums. They have reproduced the original LP s exactly, albeit from a 12 x 12 inch source down to an impossibly small 5 x 5 inch form. While the notes are basically impossible to read without a magnifying glass, including them is a nice touch, as they have typically been left off of previous reissues.
Brubeck’s Quartet was one of the outstanding jazz groups of its day. Besides Mr. Brubeck playing the piano, there was the great Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello drumming. The “Time” theme stems from the individual album titles, and Brubeck’s interest in utilizing various time signatures in his compositions.
It began in 1959 with Time Out. This album stands with Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, and My Favorite Things from John Coltrane as one of the definitive LPs of the era. “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” and “Take Five” are acknowledged jazz classics. Time Out’s remaining four tracks are pretty great too.
The “busy” arrangement of “Blue Rondo” opens the record, and is a song that just about everybody has probably heard at some point, even if they do not recognize the title. The knock on Brubeck, and other white West Coast players of the period was that they were too intellectual. The derogatory term “Cool Jazz,” was used, because supposedly the music did not swing. One listen to this track proves otherwise.
The beautiful “Strange Meadow Lark” follows, and features some gorgeous piano work from Brubeck, not to mention Desmond‘s sax toward the end. Rounding out side one of the original LP is the classic “Take Five.” The aura of mystery, odd time signatures, and excellent instrumentation combine to make this one of the finest jazz cuts ever.
The remaining four are just as strong. Columbia Records executives did not expect much to happen sales-wise from Time Out, and were pleasantly surprised when it took off. Naturally they immediately began pressuring Brubeck for a follow-up.