Monday, July 02, 2007

It's Time To Take Five

You've heard "Take Five." Even if your knowledge or appreciation of jazz is extremely limited and you're sure you haven't I'd almost be willing to bet it sounds familiar. If you hear the first track in this mix and it doesn't ring any bells you definitely need to get out more often! "Take Five" is one of those trademark jazz tunes that no matter where your musical interests lie you need to know this song... it's essential listening. Now remember this recommendation is coming from a pretty big Dave Brubeck fan so if you're a real jazz aficionado and strongly disagree don't bother writing to argue your point 'cause I ain't listenin'! :-)

Anyway, a little background, the song originally appeared on the Dave Brubeck Quartet's 1959 album of the same name and over the course of the last 48 years the actual facts about the tune have been muddied. Dave Brubeck's "trademark" song wasn't composed by Dave Brubeck, "Take Five" was actually written by saxophonist Paul Desmond. Now you're probably wondering, "has Distinctly Jamaican Sounds gone jazz?" My answer to that is not
completely Daddy-O. I'm going somewhere with this and it ain't to Squaresville cats and kittens. It hasn't been thoroughly documented but sometime in 1968 the late tenor sax man Val Bennett (born Lovall Bennett) recorded his interpretation of "Take Five" for producer Bunny Lee and gave it the name "The Russians Are Coming." Immediately it was turned around into a Derrick Morgan vehicle for professing Bunny Lee's superiority over Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in an entertaining musical "mini-drama" called "Great Musical Battle." "Take Five" then went on to become a fairly popular riddim used by some throughout the 70's and provided some surpisingly excellent backing for some serious roots reggae in that era.

We start off the mix with the Dave Brubeck classic from the 1959 album "Take Five." Second we have Val Bennett with the "Russians Are Coming" followed directly with Derrick Morgan's "Great Musical Battle" both from the CD boxset the Bunny "Striker" Lee Story from Jet Star. Next we have U-Brown with a track called "Blow Brother Joe" from his self-produced 1978 LP Weather Balloon on Gorgon Records.
Linval Thompson follows that up with his take on Take Five and the song called "12 Tribes Of Israel" from the excellent Blood & Fire release Ride On Dreadlocks. Next we have Dillinger from his 1977 Bunny Lee produced album called Superstar on the Weed Beat label and the song called "Jah Love." Barry Brown follows it up with another Bunny Lee product and a tune from 1978 called "Natty Roots Man" from the album The Best Of Barry Brown on the UK based Culture Press label. King Tubby provides the instrumental/dub interlude with "Take Five Dub" borrowed from the 2004 Jamaican Recordings CD Dub Mix Up. Back to the vocals is the killer himself Jacob Miller and a fine tune called "Standing Firm" from the 1995 release called Jacob Miller Meets The Fatman Riddim Section on Crocodisc. Next we've got a Winston Riley production from the sweet voiced Madoo called "Hands In The Air Girl" from the album Best Of Madoo on the Techniques label of course. Tony Tuff's track "Round The World" from the Sonic Sounds release 20 Super Hits follows up Madoo. Barrington Levy, with production courtesy of my man Junjo Lawes, wraps up the vocals with his 1979 song "Captivity" from the Burning Sounds LP Shine Eye Gal. Herman Marquis does his interpretation of Take Five with the track "Take Five" (imagine that) taken from the 2001 various artists CD called Beres Hammond And Friends on the Ejaness label. We end this mix with another Dave Brubeck version. This is a 1970 live version of "Take Five" from the 1970 Columbia album Dave Brubeck Trio & Gerry Mulligan - Live At The Berlin Philharmonie and as the album's title would indicate it features Mulligan on sax. You see after the initial success of "Take Five" Paul Desmond figured he could parlay its success into his own group... but that's a subject I'm saving for another blog.

Take Five And Dig It Dad!


Lee B said...

excellent! lookin forward to this. thanks for the history and the mix.

where will you continure the paul desmond story?

Anonymous said...

thanks for another great mix. we are listening, learning, and loving.

Reggaexx said...

Lee - I'll continue Paul Desmond's story as soon as I can quit my day job and start blogging full-time! :-) Seriously though, I wish I had the time to do a blog where I could discuss jazz at length but I really only consider myself a novice when it comes to the long and complex history of the music so I stick with what I know best.

The rest of Desmond's story continues with him contributing to various groups of his own and collaborating with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan to name a couple. Unfortunately Desmond's biggest hit, "Take Five" has been incorrectly attributed to Brubeck for years and to those outside the jazz circle he rarely receives the recognition and respect he was entitled. Sadly Paul Desmond died of lung cancer in 1977 though it has been written he was rather proud of the fact that his liver was in such good shape after years of heavy Scotch drinking. At least he had a sense of humor.

Glad everyone is enjoying the mix!

CP said...

Excellent work! I did a series of posts on jazz-related ska & reggae in May 2004, and while the songs are no longer up, peeps might find some of the connections interesting.

Paul Desmond, btw, LOVED vacationing in Jamaica. He went frequently and even jammed with Rastas on occasion.

Also, I wrote a long article about jazz in Ja; download a PDF here:

Reggaexx said...

CP - glad you're diggin' it! I'll tell you what I'm diggin' is the article you wrote about Jazz in Jamaica... what magazine did that appear in? Phenomenal work!! And thanks for the background info. on Paul Desmond - I've always admired the guy but after reading about his connection to Jamaica I've now developed a new found respect!

CP said...

Thx for the props. The article was in JazzTimes. From Md. to Ja to the dubdubdubdotcom.

Who Cork The Dance? said...

Greetings Reggaexx,
Always enjoyed dipping into your two blogspots and appreciate your hard work putting together you interesting post.As a Junjo/Volcano fan you might be interested in our new blogspot, only been going a few days now, but it's taking shape. Metromedia is the sound we've started with but Volcano will definately be on our radar. We are just starting to add our favourite blogs and we will add yours to it.Check us out at:
Many thanks
Andrew & Jayman

Hunter Vaughan said...

..sure saw Desmond play way back,and Brubeck band as well, without Paul....all a groove and then to discover your inventive mix....glad I am to have a 500 gig harddrive!!...forward...the mix!..thanks from Toronto

Anonymous said...

many thanks for this mix which I have been waiting for!!! love Frank

Anonymous said...

sharbee is a negitive on des one. ill keep checking put my a reup... very inteeresting and unquikly you on this post. think about

thanks for all the info and reggae.. peace and respect