Dave Brubeck

Blue Rondo à la Turk

    Description by James Leonard

    The Dave Brubeck Quartet's LP Time Out was conceived as an experimental record, a collection of tunes set in odd time signatures and enclosed in classical structures. The initial impetus came from a world tour the quartet undertook at the behest of the State Department. On it, the group heard music in compound time signatures, which Brubeck decided to incorporate into the repertoire. One of the first songs he wrote was Blue Rondo a la Turk, which the quartet recorded on July 1, 1959. It joins a folk tune the group heard in Istanbul in 9/8 time with a pair of 12-bar blues solos in a classical rondo form. The Turkish 9/8 is not divided into three beats of three each (3-3-3) as it would be in Western music, but as three beats of two each and a fourth beat of three (2-2-2-3). This gives the opening theme a rushing, impulsive character that Brubeck builds into a massive chordal climax. After the climax, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond solos over a 12-bar blues pattern that is interrupted in the first chorus by statements of the Turkish theme. Then Brubeck solos on piano over the same 12-bar pattern. Desmond takes the final chorus, re-interrupted by statements of the Turkish theme, which leads to a recapitulation of the whole opening and a second massive chordal climax ending the song. Blue Rondo a la Turk was issued as the B-side of the quartet's Take Five single in 1960 and became the best-selling single that summer. It has since been performed by everyone from harpsichordist Alexander Kipnis to Bette Midler to Emerson, Lake & Palmer to Al Jarreau. But the Brubeck Quartet's original recording is still definitive.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Cube Squared Records C2R 608
    2015 Genuin GEN 15364
    2012 Naxos 8572834
    2011 Move MD3326
    2010 Priory Records 5034
    2010 Project Trio
    2010 Violinjazz Recordings 106
    2010 Delta Distribution / Delta Leisure Group / Music Digital 60357
    2009 Tudor Records 7047
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Fortified Records / Fourtitude Records 004
    2008 Castle Music Ltd. / Sanctuary 1776980
    2008 Sanctuary 1776980
    2007 Sony Classical 88697060322
    2005 CD Baby / Stephanie Trick 3740
    2004 Afka / Afka 440
    2000 eOne / Koch / Koch International 375002
    2000 Koch International / Koch International Classics 485
    2000 Centaur Records 2468
    1999 Ondine 891
    1998 Delta Distribution / Yamaha Artists Series 30510
    1997 Maxemilian 2051
    1997 Hindsight HCD 609
    1997 Priory Records 595
    1996 Telarc Distribution CD 80467
    1996 Signum UK 7600
    1996 Doyen 015
    1995 Albany Music Distribution TROY050
    1994 Dmp 505
    1993 Bandleader 5024
    Whole>Sum Productions 2
    Bandleader 5064
    Doyen 97
    Kolner Gitarren WT12107
    Giannini Brass 6533