This Sunday marks the centennial of composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, whose groundbreaking 1959 album “Time Out” was the first jazz LP to sell a million copies.
On Friday a new CD of never-before-heard alternate tracks is being released. It’s called “Time Outtakes.”
Whether you own the original album “Time Out” or not, you probably know two of its most famous tracks, “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” But no one knew about these alternate takes, not even Brubeck’s five children, until a couple of biographers made the discovery.
“They said to us, ‘Did you kids know that there were alternate takes to “Time Out?”’ And the answer was no we didn’t,” said Chris Brubeck, one of Dave and wife Lola’s four musician sons. “For us it was super exciting for a couple of reasons, but one of the reasons is just the music is magnificent.”
Chris Brubeck co-produced the CD and says it offers fascinating insights into a group that was experimenting with rhythm, polytonality and Brubeck’s original compositions.
“You’re hearing them questing,” he said. “I mean they’re doing all these odd time signatures. They really don’t quite know what they’re doing yet. You’re also hearing the revelation of something that’s just so electric and you’re catching that moment of them just starting to beat the learning curve. The famous producer Teo Macero refers to ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’ — he says ‘OK, Turkish, take one.’ I mean you can tell that he doesn’t know what my dad is bringing into this session”
Alternate takes in jazz are always interesting because while the tunes are familiar, the solos are totally different. One great example on “Time Outtakes” is “Blue Rondo a la Turk.”
“Dave plays an outrageous deep number of blues choruses,” Chris Brubeck said. “He plays 10 of them, and [by contrast] I think he plays four on ‘Time Out.’ And it’s so interesting because as a composer he’s weaving in fragments of the melody into his blues solo all the time.”
Another track on “Time Outtakes” is “Cathy’s Waltz,” written for Dave’s daughter, whose name was famously misspelled by Columbia on the original album.
“I love this version of ‘Cathy’s Waltz,’ which I think maybe is better than the one on ‘Time Out,’” Chris Brubeck said. “Paul Desmond, with that beautiful alto sound, I think it’s on his third chorus of ‘Cathy’s Waltz,’ he goes way high in the range and does these skipping intervals and they’re just perfect choice of notes and no one probably ever would have dared to do that and yet he pulled it off.”
Saxophonist Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck had been playing together for well over a decade when they made “Time Out.” Bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello had only been with the quartet for about a year. Chris Brubeck says these landmark recordings really cemented the group. As an example he included on the CD a track of studio banter between the musicians.
“You can hear all of them are doing their thing psychologically to just keep this session cool and flowing and they all felt that they were onto something,” Brubeck said.
So how does Chris Brubeck think his dad would feel about this collection of long lost gems?
“I think that he’s looking down, very happy that we’ve revealed some of this great music,” he said. “I mean it’s familiar tunes but really different and new performances. I think he would be very pleased with his public and new people having the chance to discover more about the band and the process of those recording sessions of 1959.”
CapRadio is offering "Time Outtakes" as a thank you gift during our year-end fund drive. More details here.