Today I was thinking about The Dave Brubeck Quartet and one of the greatest drum solos ever incorporated into a song. The piece titled “Take Five” had been specifically written to feature drummer Joe Morello’s mastery of 5/4 time. “Take Five” was first played by Brubeck’s quartet to a live audience at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959. Over the next 50 years it was re-recorded many times, and was often used by the group to close concerts. Each member would, upon completing their solo, stop playing and leave the stage. Morello’s contribution rounded out the solo section and then brought the group right back into the groove.
As the centerpiece to the song, Morello appeared on many other Brubeck performances and contributed to over 60 albums with the pianist. According to his bio Morello appeared on over 120 albums. He authored several drum books, including Master Studies, published by Modern Drummer Publications, and also made instructional videos. Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine’s best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine’s best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 1988, the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993, and was the recipient of Hudson Music’s first TIP (Teacher Integration Program) Lifetime Achievement award in June of 2010.
Composed by Paul Desmond “Take Five” became one of the most famous jazz instrumentals of the 1960’s. Upon his death in 1977, Desmond left the rights to royalties for performances of his compositions, including “Take Five,” to the American Red Cross, which has since received combined royalties of approximately $100,000 per year. Here is a live performance of “Take Five” recorded in Belgium in 1964.