What can innovators learn from Time Out?
This jazz album was recorded in 1959. It’s the first instrumental jazz album to sell over a million copies. For decades it has been in the list of the top 10 biggest selling jazz albums of all time. Here’s the short version of the story.
When the band leader, David Brubeck, decided to record this album his record label people at Columbia Records said no. The music as composed by Brubeck was very unusual for the time in its time signatures and style.
Finally, Goddard Lieberson, the President of Columbia, the most powerful label of the day, approved taking the risk after hearing the music. The album was released in 1960.
Brubeck tells the Time Out story in Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way.*
“What they were against, they explained to me, is these are unwritten laws that you’ve broken. You have a painting on the cover, we’ve never done that. You have all originals, we’ve never done that. And, you also have most of the album in odd time signatures that the public can’t dance to.
“So here was all these unwritten laws that I had broken and finally Goddard [Lieberson], the President, got the album out.
“And the acceptance of it showed that you could go in and do something avant garde, experimental and still have the public following you.
Listen to the podcast and you’ll find further proof of innovation by The David Brubeck Quartet contributing to their commercial and artistic success.
* Source: Jazz Profiles, a National Public Radio podcast, at at 38:20 minutes.
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