Here is the guitar tab for the song..
Note lengths - (8 = eighth note), (4 = quarter note),
(6= dotted quarter note), (2 = half note), 
(DH = dotted half note)
5/4 time
_A_
-----------|----------------|-----------|----------|-------
-----------|---5------------|-----------|----------|-------
------5-7--|-8---8-7-5------|----4------|----------|-------
----7------|--------------5-|-7----7--5-|-7--5-----|-------
--7--------|------------7---|-----------|------7-5-|-------
-----------|----------------|-----------|----------|-------
  8 8 8 8    8 8 8 8 8  4 4   DH 8 8  4   DH 8 8 4

------------|----------------|----------|----------|------
------------|---5------------|----------|----------|------
--------5-7-|-8---8-7-5------|----4-----|----------|------
------7-----|--------------5-|-7----7-5-|-7--5-----|------
-7--7-------|------------7---|----------|------7-5-|------
------------|----------------|----------|----------|------
 DH 8 8 8 8   8 8 8 8 4  4 4   DH 8 8 4   DH 8 8 4

     _B_  d-      G7        Cj7      A-7
-------|--5-8-5-----------|---7--------------|------------
-------|--------6---5-6-7-|-8----8-5-------5-|------------
-------|----------7-------|----------5-7-8---|------------
-------|------------------|------------------|------------
-7-----|------------------|------------------|------------
-------|------------------|------------------|------------
 2        8 4 8 4 8 8 8 8   8 4  8 4 8 8 8 8

 d-7     G7        Cj7       A7        d-7     G7
---5-------------|-------------------|-5-8-5--------------
-6---6-----------|-5---5-6-8-8-7-8-9-|-------6---5-6-7----
-------7-4-5-6-7-|---8---------------|---------7----------
-----------------|-------------------|--------------------
-----------------|-------------------|--------------------
-----------------|-------------------|--------------------
 8 4 8 4 8 8 8 8   8 8 8 8 4 8 8 8 8   8 4 8 4 8 8 8 8

 Cj7     a-7        d-7                b-7(b5)   E7
---7-------------|----5-------------|----------------------
-8---8-5-------5-|--6---6-----------|----------------------
---------5-7-8---|--------7-4-7-8-6-|--5-------------------
-----------------|------------------|----------------------
-----------------|------------------|----------------------
-----------------|------------------|----------------------
 8 4 8 4 8 8 8 8    8 4 8 4 8 8 8 8    DH

CHORDS:
_A_
-----------------------|-----------------------------|----
----1------1----0---0--|-----------------------------|----
----2------2----0---0--|---------.-/----------------.|----
----2------2----2---2--|----------/-.---------------.|----
-0------0--------------|-----------------------------|----
----------------0---3--|-----------------------------|----
Perhaps the most overlooked fact about the song "Take Five" is that it was not written by Dave Brubeck; rather, it was written by the quartet's saxophonist Paul Desmond.

The song was not intended to be a hit in any way. The whole album that the song first appears on, "Time Out", is an experimental foray into odd time signatures (besides the 5/4 of Take Five, there is the alternating 9/8 and 4/4 of Blue Rondo a la Turk, and the 3/4 and 7/8 of much of the rest of the album). In fact, Take Five was originally written as a drum exercise for drummer Joe Morello.

Brubeck himself has little to do in this song, playing a simple vamp of the three basic chords while Desmond and later Morello go to town soloing over this sparse backup.

There is even a break in the song where it switches to 4/4**. It is a tribute to these musicians that this switch, and indeed the awkward timing of this song, seems perfectly natural, even to the Western ear trained to 4/4 and 3/4 as being the "real" time signatures.

An edited version of the song was released as a single, with the drum solo chopped slightly and the piano break that leads into said solo removed. The B-side of the single was "Blue Rondo a la Turk" (mistitled "Blue Rondo a la Tuna" on the jukebox page).

Desmond's thoughts on "Take Five":

At the time I really thought it was kind of a throw-away. I was ready to trade the entire rights, lifetime-wise of "Take Five" for a used Ronson electric razor. And the thing that makes "Take Five" work is the bridge, which we almost didn't use. We really came within ... I shudder to think how close we came to not using that, because I said "Well I got this theme that we could use for a middle part". And Dave said, "Well let's run it through." And that's what made "Take Five".

Take Five was also used as the opening theme to a Playboy or Hugh Hefner televison show in the late 20th century.


And no one has yet mentioned that to "take five" means to take a break, as in "take five minutes off". It's often used to disassemble groups such as actors or musicians. Without this phrase as part of the vernacular, this song would not have had such a catchy title.
** One of my sources claims this, anyway; I listened to the Time Out version of the song several times with a pair of headphones and a pencil to tap out the beat and never found it. I could be wrong, or it could be a different version, like the mangled single version mentioned above.
Sources:

http://www.morewisdom.com/desmond.htm
http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/SoundtrackForACentury/ns4/track/1724.html
http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/s/x/sxh209/reviews2.html

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