“Take Five” a la Pakistan

When Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond took time out for tips from Indian musicians during their 1958 State Department tour, the exchange worked both ways. The Brubeck Quartet’s tour was an important component of the cultural diplomacy the United States practiced during the Cold War. Among other inspirations Brubeck picked up on the international road more than half a century ago was the 9/8 Turkish rhythm that became the basis for his “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” Desmond had long been working into his improvisations the minor feeling of near- and middle-eastern music, as—most famously— in “Le Souk” on the Jazz Goes To College album. Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo” and Desmond’s “Take Five” had yet to be written when the picture on the left was taken, but the Brubeck group left impressions in India and Pakistan that helped insinuate modern jazz into the cultures of those countries. Able to not only absorb from other musics but also contribute to them, jazz has become more and more natural to musicians there, as have Indo-Paki scales, ragas and quarter tones to western musicians.

With improvisation common to the music of both cultures, it may have been inevitable that something like the Sachal Studios Orchestra would develop. Founded by a businessman and philanthropist named Izzat Majeed, Sachal Studos in Lahore provides some of Pakistan’s most talented musicians a place to pursue their craft. Its current project is an album called Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova, due out in May. According to an advance track list, it opens with “Take Five.” Here is the promotional video. The soloists are Balu Khan, tabla; Nafees Khan, sitar; and Tanveer Hussain, guitar. The conductor is Riaz Hussain. The string arrangement may not be long on innovation, but it follows the dictum drummer Joe Morello gave Brubeck before they made the original recording, “Keep that vamp going.”

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  1. says

    I lived in Izmir, Turkey from 1956-58, but even though I heard the Quartet for the first time during that stretch, it was on LP record, and I wasn’t alert enough to notice when the guys passed through Istanbul. Still, when the Impressions of Eurasia album came out, I knew they meant MY Asia, given the tracks “Nomad” and “The Golden Horn.” The point I’m slow getting to is that those tunes plus “Calcutta Blues” (and even the album cover photo) might be as apropos to your discussion of mutual influence since, as you mention, the rhythms and minor-key sounds of “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo” actually came out as much as a year later. I wonder what was written when…

    And heading west and north from the “Turques,” what about klezmer, which can sound Middle Eastern–any of that in Desmond’s listening?

  2. says

    wie geil&klasse ist das denn!!!
    take five in einer absoluten klasse und virtuosen Version:KLASSE!!
    Bin ein großer fan,vom Außergewöhnlichem&das ist einfach nur GUT!!

    So wie das Buch “TÜRKISCHE RHYTMEN” von Shakir Ertek..bin selbst hauptberuflich Musiker&Schlagzeuglehrer&kann Euch nur empfehlen,dieses Buch zu kaufen!!!
    Wer mehr über die Geschichte&die tollen Rhytmen&ihre Tradition erfahren möchte,kommt an diesem tollen Nachschlagewerk NICHT!!!vorbei..DRINGEND EMPFEHLENSWERT!

    (Rough English translation by the Rifftides staff):

    How cool & classy is that!!! Take Five in an absolutely classy and virtuoso version: CLASS!! I am a big fan of the exceptional & this is just GOOD!!

    And I urgently recommend the book Turkish Rhythms by Shakir Ertek, about the great rhythms and their tradition.