Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died today at the age of 91. He'll be remembered for "Take Five" as much as anything, even though his songbook is deep, and that's because it's still undeniably catchy, clever, and the record it was on was the first Jazz album to sell more than a million copies.
It's used frequently in film and advertisements, as well, which is why you'll instantly recognize it even if you don't know who Dave Brubeck is. For my generation, many of us first noticed it as the background for this commercial for the Infiniti J30.
Like all Japanese luxury companies in the '90s, they had to have a famous actor with a distinct voice narrate for them and, sadly, James Spader was already taken. So they went with Jonathan Pryce, maybe hoping to convince us the delightfully ovoid J30 was somehow British.
This ad, which they called "Thinking of You," was actually shot in Prague, because I guess no Americans were going to Jazz concerts or something. Here's a description from the press release that surrounded it:
Set to launch on June 13, the artistic black-and-white spots feature Jonathan Pryce (Infiniti's signature spokesperson) on-location in Prague — one of Europe's most elegant cities and one of the world's hottest jazz scenes — accompanied by Dave Brubek's legendary jazz anthem, "Take Five." Filmed over a four-week period, the ads form a personal bond with the consumer, with Jonathan Pryce asking a series of meaningful questions — some voiced off-camera and others posed directly to the camera — creating an emotional mood while also enhancing the vehicle's timeless beauty and sophisticated appeal.
It worked. The ad was memorable and, if Internet searches are any guide, people still want to know what that song was.
I can't honestly tell you how aware I was of Dave Brubeck before I saw the commercial as the 13-year-old version of myself liked the idea of liking jazz, even if I didn't listen to it all that often. I just remember a few years later buying a vinyl copy of "Dave Brubeck Live In Japan" at a used record store in Lincoln, Nebraska and listening to Take Five out of a boom box in the courtyard of my high school.
At the very least this ad put the song even further back into my consciousness. Anyone else feel this way?