Dave Brubeck Time Out (1959) Fontana


Selection: Blue Rondo a la Turk (Brubeck) first European pressing. Yes I know you all know it, but bear with it, there is more to the story.

In 9/8 time (plus 4/4 swing) the rhythm of Blue Rondo à La Turk consists of three measures of 2+2+2+3 followed by one measure of 3 + 3 + 3, and repeat.Simples.


Paul Desmond (as) Dave Brubeck (p) Gene Wright (b) Joe Morello (d) recorded NYC, August 18, 1959, Columbia’s 30th Street Studio, engineer Fred Plaut (also credited with Kind of Blue and Ah Um); original cover art Neil Fujita, no credit given for Dutch cover photographer, I assume that shot is  the young quartet in Columbia’s legendary 30th St Studios. Much more interesting than Fujita’s geometric abstact.

True Confessions

Humble PieFirst off, I have to eat some of this stuff. Lets get it over with. I was wrong. What’s that? You can’t hear me? I said I was wrong. W.O.R.N.G wrong about Brubeck! Good enough for you? Savour it. I didn’t own any Brubeck because I had listened to him in my teens and no, that was then and this is now. I don’t like Brubeck, I recall writing in comments

The avalanche of email then followed my comment – okay, I think it was three – but in blogland, three is an avalanche. I expect most of the lurkers added smirking. I think no matter what size your mouth, there’s always room to put your foot in it. May be I should have a try again?

Chance came along in an out-of-town store with a nice cheap stash of all my old Brubeck favourites – except Time Out, of course, which is a little more collectible. I picked up three or four, and dammit, I enjoyed them. Especially Paul Desmond, who I can only describe as Art Pepper without the arrest record. When this copy of the Dutch first press by Philips came to hand, I jumped at it, figuring I would upgrade to a Six Eye in the fullness of time


What’s to say that hasn’t already been said? Cut and Paste time. 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 a change, 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. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard pop albums chart, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA”

Vinyl: European first pressing, Fontana 682 065 TL, Philips, Holland

US Columbia CL 1397 with clogs on.

Time Out  manages 79 separate entries in Discogs, a half dozen of which think they are all the original pressing. This copy below on Ebay (different catalogue number from mine) outdoes all of them, according to the seller, released in 1957, two years before it was recorded. Now that’s what I call Rare!! Time Machine Recall Notice:  faulty clutch

1957 Dutch TOjpg

A set of online reviews also  contained this recommendation: “kentboy1961 says: Best to listern to this master pice on good old vinyl” Right idea, shame about the spelling:



Collectors Corner

Source: Central London record shop,

We both agreed the Dutch cover is “unusual”, though whether that is a good thing or not a good thing is debatable. From my perspective the Dutch cover is much more interesting. For anyone interested in body language, Desmond and Morello are “staring at the floor” – they are tuning out their visual sense so they can focus more clearly on the playback of the take they just laid down. Wright is doing the same, only seated. Brubeck enjoying a smoke, is taking in their reaction as well as the music. He’s the leader so he wants their reading as well as his own. That picture tells some story.

It wouldn’t be LJC without a sting in the tale – so on to a Tale of Two Time Outs Following up a desire for an original US Columbia, below caught my eye on Ebay just a week later:

My Six Eye

A Six-Eye was advertised on Ebay from a London seller.The seller was adamant it was “a piece of music history” and after close was disappointed there was so little interest.When the “Six Eye” arrived it carried the tell-tale “CBS” overprint. But its a Six Eye, Yeah!  Great! Blow the Dutchman out of the water. Head to head! On to the turntable it went:

Aide Memoire: Fontana Dutch Philips pressing 1959:

CBS Columbia Six Eye pressing, early Sixties:

It is a Six Eye, Jim, but not as we know it. More like a Poke in the Eye. Hopefully the MP3 is able to capture the difference between the two. (Recorded with  identical settings and gain.) My own impression on the full system of the two pressings:

The Fontana: a delight, Morello’s cymbals sparkle and sizzle, Brubeck’s piano resonates, notes have attack and decay, transients,  musically, everything flows, draws you in.

The CBS Six Eye is a drudge – top end dull or missing, the piano is dead and stodgy, the bass an unmusical thump. Everything drags, you just want to turn it off.


Saving the worse for last: not even the original Columbia cover (below left) but the second cover (right) “featuring Blue Rondo a la Turk” which was by then the talk of the town.

CL1397-Brubeck-Time-Out-two-coversA lot of lessons to take in there. Everyone has a Kind of Blue story. Perhaps you have a more interesting Time Out story. Mine still has the final  chapter as yet unwritten.

7 thoughts on “Dave Brubeck Time Out (1959) Fontana

  1. Thanks for the post, it’s a great read.
    Regarding the Dutch cover – Brubeck didn’t smoke. That’s Joe Morello sitting down, smoking, while Brubeck is standing next to Desmond. Do you think this changes the story this cover told you?

  2. I’m delighted you’ve welcomed Brubeck into the fold. I await your review of his greatest cut-for-cut LP – Jazz Goes To College which I think came out here on Philips in 1955.
    The sample of your Fontana “Blue Rondo A La Turk’ sounds wonderful.

  3. Fred Plaut must be right up there with Roy DuNann of Contemporary Records. With a good pressing, the superb engineering work reveals the music with remarkable fullness and realism. Even with my MacBook Pro internal speakers, your CBS 6-eye shrivels before the Fontana. I’ve got a nice (non-CBS) 6-eye — but will have to revisit the cover art.

  4. Maybe you had to ask for DG on CL 1397.
    I do not like Brubeck’s music: I wonder how Desmond could have done if he had never entered Brubeck’s quartet.

    • DG – check! That’s a useful lesson.
      Paul Desmond without Brubeck? Super-cool West Coast Alto – he could have done really well, especially during the years Art Pepper was languishing in San Quentin.

  5. Time out vs.Time off: What a lovely wordplay the Philips guys made by creating a sleeve with the picture of the quartet at rest. For me, the Dutch cover makes a lot of sense, whereas the US abstract, c’est du n’importe quoi.

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