It’s not often you hear a jazz debate on sports radio. So yesterday’s exchange about the Dave Brubeck recording of “Take Five” – and the ensuing debate over its authorship (by Brubeck’s alto saxist, alter ego, and longtime associate Paul Desmond) – may actually qualify as a predecent-setting occasion.
The fact that it also included comments from one of the city’s leading jazz drummer-bandleaders? Well, that just puts it over the top.
Here’s the setup: with “Take Five” playing behind them, ESPN Radio (WMVP) hosts “Carmen, Jurko & Harry” found themselves enmeshed in the question of whether this most famous of jazz tunes could in fact be called “a Dave Brubeck song” if it was actually written by someone else. Among their listeners was Chicago drummer Ted Sirota, and as he explains (and as you can hear here), he finally couldn’t take it any more. So he called in.
Sirota – best known for his acclaimed band the Rebel Souls, and for his membership in the Sabertooth jazz quartet that plays each Saturday night deep into Sunday morning at the Green Mill – brought the proper perspective to this burning question. I’m still researching the premise that this represents the first recorded instance of a jazz musician settling what amounts to a sports-bar bet.
(However, I do like Sirota’s reaction to being immediately put on the air after telling the producer he was a jazz drummer: “That’s the first time I’ve ever been treated better by saying I’m a jazz drummer!”)
Listening to the preamble to Sirota’s comment – the first 2:50 or so of the Carmen-Jurko-Harry summit – you can easily understand Sirota’s growin impatience with these guys. It also begs the question of why Ted Sirota was listening to these geniuses in the first place. But upon hearing him set them straight, you’re kind of glad he did.