Time Out is not only Dave Brubeck’s signature recording, it is also his first (and best) foray into an exploration of time signatures themselves. By its very nature, the idiom of jazz has ventured into all sorts of experiments with time. The list of jazz artists who have contributed to rethinking the basic 4/4 beat would fill an encyclopedia. To get right down to it, Brubeck had played around a bit prior to the 1959 release of Time Out. But nobody (including himself) has done it with quite the style and grace of The Dave Brubeck Quartet on this album.
“Album” is of course a misnomer in a review of this release, for it is a SACD that we are discussing. The proper term is Super Audio Compact Disc. The Analogue Productions Company has just issued Time Out in the SACD format, and it is intended for fans who wish to hear the seven songs which make up the recording in as pristine a manner as possible.
Believe it or not, the compact disc has been a part of the music landscape for roughly 30 years now. It did not seriously take off until the late ‘80s though. For anyone who remembers, it was sold as a music delivery system which was (they said) “permanent.” There is no arguing the fact that CDs are less fragile than vinyl LPs, but everyone reading this knows that CDs are easily damaged. For those of us who took care of our records though, I would argue that there is not that much of a difference between the two formats in terms of “damage control.” If you beat the crap out of your records, and beat the crap out of your compact discs, the end result is the same.
What was never brought to our attention was just how much sound we lost with the change from analog to digital. Actually, that was a fraction of what we lost. There was a gold rush to release every classic rock artist on CD, because the CD debut of artists like The Beatles went through the roof. What we discovered later was that the labels were often using third or fourth generation tapes as their source material. Add to this the fact that the digital nature of compact discs eliminates up to 80% of the tonal nuances in the recording, and one can understand why people call vinyl “warmer.”