|Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond|
It is ironic that even though Dave Brubeck was the principal composer for his group, Take Five was actually penned by his man on sax, the legendary Paul Desmond. Desmond (originally Breitenfeld) was born in San Francisco in 1924. As a boy, Desmond picked up the violin. Unfortunately, his father detested the instrument and forbade him to play it. Paul then switched to clarinet and later to the alto sax. During WWII he was in the Army band where he met Brubeck who was also from the Bay Area. After the War (around 1950), they hooked up again in California and formed a group calling it The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Ten years later, they sold a million copies of Desmond’s Take Five. Desmond has stated that the 5/4 rhythm idea came to him while he was playing a pinball machine – “pull-spin-spin, click-click.” Brubeck’s story of how the 5/4 meter groove evolved was a bit different. The band’s drummer, Joe Morello, liked to warm up in 5/4 during soundchecks and often would use a 5/4 beat in his nightly long-form drum solo. Paul wrote two themes to his bandmate’s drum patterns. After hearing these melody lines often, Brubeck suggested that they both work together to make a song form out of them calling the tune “Take Five.” The title had a hidden pun – not only making reference to the tune’s meter, but also to having to “take five” – a back stage break for the rest of the band – during Joe’s lengthy drum solos. It is reported that Desmond disliked the title at first - but it stuck!
Dave Brubeck said of his beloved bandmate and composer of Take Five: “Some people called him the stork -- ‘Cause he would stand on one leg and leaned on the piano. But that…that was when he was playing great. What used to scare me is I’d look at him and it would just be whites in his eyes, wouldn’t be any eyeballs.”