The P.R. material that came with Gary Husband's Hotwired indicates the multi-instrumentalist and composer wanted to pay tribute to his influences such as Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette and others, and also to capture the "American" or "New York" sound of the wonderful jazz bands that used to visit the London jazz clubs he frequented. I don't think you can pick a more "American" jazz tune than Paul Desmond's "Take Five."
The piece starts with Husband adding drum flourishes in a slightly prolonged intro. To my unmuffled ears the most dominant influence in Husband's playing on this cut comes from Tony Williams. Bassist Michael Janisch thumps the tune along. I love the way Husband mixed the bass and drums on this album. They are very upfront. Saxophonist Julian Siegel and trumpeter Richard Turner play off each other for the tune's head arrangement. The head-nodding quality of the original tune's melody is maintained even through some rather darker passages are presented. "Take Five's" midsection is taken over by expressive and sometimes violent free-jazz blowing before things calm down. This is not your father's "Take Five." If Husband wanted New York City, he got it. This music would have been perfect to follow the rough-and-tumble private-eye Mike Hammer around.
Husband's new band Drive proves to be a powerful unit quite capable of constructing and then deconstructing original musical ideas. Just make sure it is your headphones you are listening through, and not your earmuffs.
January 14, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: take five
I have deliberately set up some ambiguous labels here, as Paul Desmond's classic has been on my mind lately. I used to listen to a jazz station on my satellite radio. The past tense became necessary as the percentage of repeats became intolerable. That and the fact that their Dave Brubeck selections made it seem as though Brubeck had recorded only two songs: "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo à la Turk." It's sadly ironic whenever a groundbreaking artist is forced into some unnecessarily restricted Museum of Jazz.
All of which makes this version of "Take Five" so refreshing. Here we have the original tune updated not only with a funky vibe and Joani Taylor's sensual vocals, but also with a little Hip-Hop crosspollination, and the throw-down of MC Jay Kin. Forget the labels, this is just too much fun.
December 09, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: take five
October 23, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: take five
October 23, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: take five
In the 1970s, I was in the middle of my fusion discovery period. But I will never forget my first time hearing Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond playing the live version of "Take Five" on the radio. That music was very much different than what I was listening to in those days. But it had the same mesmerizing effect. I wanted to hear more and I made sure I did.
So of course I learned about standards and what great jazz musicians do with them. I have heard many interpretations of "Take Five" over the years. Most fall short because the memory of the initial experience still overwhelms. Roger Kellaway, regarded as one of the world's most accomplished pianists, does not fall short on this one. That is because he presents the tune from a different perspective that does not compete with the original. That is the real key to any successful interpretation. Kellaway's arrangement is a heavily blues-based number that at times is a slow shuffle and at other times swings like hell. Kellaway doesn't dominate the historic opening riffs as Brubeck did. He leaves more space. Often the main melody is played by bassist Jay Leonhart. Each player takes a traditional solo turn. (Though a cello solo on "Take Five" is anything but traditional.) And boy, can these cats play! Kellaway is as dexterous and expressive as any jazz pianist I have heard. In fact, all these guys are world class. And I have not even mentioned that there are no drums! So Kellaway and gang are expert timekeepers, too. There is another surprise at song's end as some high-energy unison playing almost sounds like a slight nod to progressive rock.
If I were you, I would take the 8½ minutes to listen to this "Take Five." It is one of the most creative takes on a standard I have heard in years.
October 02, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: take five
March 14, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: take five
October 25, 2007 · 1 commentTags: take five
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