A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.
This time around no other copy of Time Out could touch our good Six Eye Stereo pressings — they were in a league of their own.
If you’ve been with us for a long time you may remember that this was not always the case. We used to really like some 360s as I recall, as well as the original mono pressing. This time around, not so much.
This time around most everythings’s different. Allow us to explain.
1. Our stereo is different; we’ve made quite a number of changes to it since our last big shootout for Time Out a few years back.
2. We’re different; we have better (I would hope) listening skills. In fact I’m sure we listen for different qualities in a recording than we might have years ago.
3. Even more importantly, we don’t have the same pile of pressings we had years ago. They’re gone, replaced by a new batch. This new batch had some killer original pressings, some good 360s, and not much to speak of on the later labels.
With a different batch we might have found a great sounding 360 pressing; we have to believe they exist, and we certainly can’t say that our best copy here could not have been bettered in some way. That would be foolish; anything can be bettered. But for us, in 2014 (and probably through 2015), this is it. This is the right sound.
Why Time Out
This copy blew our minds — nothing could touch it. The cymbals ring in an exceedingly natural way, Desmond’s sax was dramatically more breathy and intimate, Brubeck played with more energy and clarity, and the whole of the ensemble was so clearly “in the room” that the music was as real and as palpable as it would have been had I been standing in the studio with the four of them in 1959.
If this had been any other original record — Kind of Blue for instance — it’s very unlikely we would have bothered trying to sell a copy with surfaces such as these.
Ah, but that’s cheating: Kind of Blue doesn’t sound its best on the original label; we actually prefer the Red Label Columbia pressings.
The best we heard. Right in a way that nothing else was.
Ditto. Just not on quiet vinyl. Marks don’t seem to play much, the vinyl itself is just crackly and poppy under the music.
On this side listen to the drums on Everybody’s Jumpin’ . This album was recorded on a big sound stage and there is a HUGE room which can clearly be heard surrounding the drum kit. Add to that that some of the drums are in the left channel and some of the drums are in the right channel and you have one big drum kit — exactly the way it was intended to sound.
Blue Rondo A La Turk
Strange Meadow Lark
Three To Get Ready
Pick Up Sticks
Dave Brubeck’s defining masterpiece, Time Out is one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history, the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time. It was a risky move — Brubeck’s record company wasn’t keen on releasing such an arty project, and many critics initially roasted him for tampering with jazz’s rhythmic foundation.
But for once, public taste was more advanced than that of the critics. Buoyed by a hit single in altoist Paul Desmond’s ubiquitous “Take Five,” Time Out became an unexpectedly huge success, and still ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. That’s a testament to Brubeck and Desmond’s abilities as composers, because Time Out is full of challenges both subtle and overt — it’s just that they’re not jarring.
Brubeck’s classic “Blue Rondo à la Turk” blends jazz with classical form and Turkish folk rhythms, while “Take Five,” despite its overexposure, really is a masterpiece; listen to how well Desmond’s solo phrasing fits the 5/4 meter, and how much Joe Morello’s drum solo bends time without getting lost. The other selections are richly melodic as well, and even when the meters are even, the group sets up shifting polyrhythmic counterpoints that nod to African and Eastern musics.
Some have come to disdain Time Out as its become increasingly synonymous with upscale coffeehouse ambience, but as someone once said of Shakespeare, it’s really very good in spite of the people who like it. It doesn’t just sound sophisticated — it really is sophisticated music, which lends itself to cerebral appreciation, yet never stops swinging. Countless other musicians built on its pioneering experiments, yet it’s amazingly accessible for all its advanced thinking, a rare feat in any art form.
This belongs in even the most rudimentary jazz collection.
Fred Plaut and the Legendary CBS Studios
CBS 30th Street Studio, also known as Columbia 30th Street Studio, and nicknamed “The Church”, was an American recording studio operated by Columbia Records from 1949 to 1981 located at 207 East 30th Street, between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, New York City.
It was considered by some in the music industry to be the best sounding room in its time and others consider it to have been the greatest recording studio in history. A large number of recordings were made there in all genres, including Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (1959), Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (Original Broadway Cast recording, 1957), Percy Faith’s Theme from A Summer Place (1960), and Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979).
Having been a church for many years, it had been abandoned and empty for sometime, and in 1949 it was transformed into a recording studio by Columbia Records.
“There was one big room, and no other place in which to record”, wrote John Marks in an article in Stereophile magazine in 2002.
The recording studio had 100 foot high ceilings, a 100 foot floorspace for the recording area, and the control room was on the second floor being only 8 by 14 feet. Later, the control room was moved down to the ground floor.
“It was huge and the room sound was incredible,” recalls Jim Reeves, a sound technician who had worked in it. “I was inspired,” he continues “by the fact that, aside from the artistry, how clean the audio system was.”
Many celebrated musical artists from all genres of music used the 30th Street Studio for some of their most famous recordings.
Bach: The Goldberg Variations, the 1955 debut album of the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould, was recorded in the 30th Street Studio. It was an interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the work launched Gould’s career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings. On May 29, 1981, a second version of the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould was recorded in this studio, and would be the last production by the famous studio.
Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded almost exclusively at the 30th Street Studio during his years under contract to Columbia, including his album Kind of Blue (1959). Other noteworthy jazz musicians having recorded in this place: Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck.
In 1964, Bob Dylan and record producer Tom Wilson were experimenting with their own fusion of rock and folk music. The first unsuccessful test involved overdubbing a “Fats Domino early rock & roll thing” over Dylan’s earlier, recording of “House of the Rising Sun”, using non-electric instruments, according to Wilson. This took place in the Columbia 30th Street Studio in December 1964. It was quickly discarded, though Wilson would more famously use the same technique of overdubbing an electric backing track to an existing acoustic recording with Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”.
Fred Plaut, Engineer Extraordinaire
Frederick “Fred” Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label’s chief engineer.
Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia’s famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.
Check out more of our Hot Stamper pressings made from recordings engineered at the legendary CBS 30th Street Studio
The album was intended as an experiment using musical styles Brubeck discovered abroad while on a United States Department of State sponsored tour of Eurasia, such as when he observed in Turkey a group of street musicians performing a traditional Turkish folk song that was played in 9/8 time, a rare meter for Western music. Although the theme of Time Out is non-common-time signatures, things are not quite so simple.
“Blue Rondo à la Turk” starts in 9/8, with a typically Balkan 2+2+2+3 subdivision into short and long beats (the rhythm of the Turkish zeybek, equivalent of the Greek zeibekiko) as opposed to the more Western 3+3+3 pattern, but the saxophone and piano solos are in 4/4. The title is a play on Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” from his Piano Sonata No. 11, and reflects the fact that the band heard the rhythm while traveling in Turkey. Contrary to popular belief, Brubeck did not base the piece on the Mozart sonata musically; he stated in a 2003 interview, “I should’ve just called it ‘Blue Rondo’, because the title just seemed to confuse people.”
“Strange Meadow Lark” begins with a piano solo that exhibits no clear time signature, but then settles into a fairly ordinary 4/4 swing once the rest of the group joins.
“Take Five” is in 5/4 throughout. According to Desmond, “It was never supposed to be a hit. It was supposed to be a Joe Morello drum solo.”
“Three to Get Ready” begins in waltz-time, after which it begins to alternate between two measures of 3/4 and two of 4/4.
“Kathy’s Waltz”, named after Brubeck’s daughter Cathy but misspelled, starts in 4/4, and only later switches to double-waltz time before merging the two.
“Everybody’s Jumpin'” is mainly in a very flexible 6/4, while “Pick Up Sticks” firms that up into a clear and steady 6/4.
It has been speculated that “Kathy’s Waltz” inspired the song “All My Loving”, written by Paul McCartney and performed by The Beatles, as they share similar rhythmic endings to the last phrases of their melodies.