Artist: Dave Brubeck Quartet
Genre: Cool Jazz
As impressed as I am by the complex time signatures (“Blue Rondo à la Turk” opens in 9/8!) and the sophisticated melodies (dig that quintuple meter!), the real impact of Dave Brubeck’s legendary Time Out lies in its ability to be less pretentious than it sounds. The Brubeck Quartet never set out to change jazz history; they merely got hot at the right time.
Sonically, the innovations of Time Out are timeless. “Take Five” somehow sounds fresher today than when it topped the charts back in 1959, while the breathtaking transition that occurs halfway through “Strange Meadow Lark” is truly one of the most exquisite moments in jazz history. Even though sophisto-jazz isn’t my usual cup of tea, Time Out is simply too well-performed and well-renowned to ignore completely.
But the truth is, it might not even be Brubeck’s best album. When it comes to jazz, I’ll always prefer improvisation over composition. Time Out is a lot of things — breezy, lightweight, entertaining and somewhat overrated. But it isn’t Jazz at Oberlin.