Pakistani Musicians Play Amazing Version of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Classic, “Take Five”

How’s this for fusion? Here we have The Sachal Studios Orchestra, based in Lahore, Pakistan, playing an innovative cover of “Take Five,” the jazz standard written by Paul Desmond and performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1959. Before he died last year, Brubeck called it the “most interesting” version he had ever heard. Once you watch the performance above, you’ll know why.

According to The Guardian, The Sachal Studios Orchestra was created by Izzat Majeed, a philanthropist based in London. When Pakistan fell under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s, Pakistan’s classical music scene fell on hard times. Many musicians were forced into professions they had never imagined — selling clothes, electrical parts, vegetables, etc. Whatever was necessary to get by. Today, many of these musicians have come together in a 60-person orchestra that plays in a state-of-the-art studio, designed partly by Abbey Road sound engineers.

You can purchase their album, Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova, on Amazon and iTunes. It includes versions of “Take Five” and “The Girl from Ipanema.”

A big thanks goes to Kavya for sending this wonderful tribute our way.

Related Content:

Watch Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ Performed on a Gayageum, a Traditional Korean Instrument

Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Performed on Traditional Chinese Instruments

An Uplifting Musical Surprise for Dave Brubeck in Moscow (1997)



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  1. Derek C. F. Pegritz says . . . | April 12, 2013 / 9:20 am

    There simply are not words expressive enough to describe how friggin’ AWESOME this is. I bet John Coltrane, with his abiding interest in Eastern/Western musical crossover, would’ve dug this the mostest!

  2. Anonymoose says . . . | April 12, 2013 / 10:14 am

    This is brilliant. Just exquisite.

  3. ayo says . . . | April 12, 2013 / 6:29 pm

    I rolled my eyes when I first saw the title thinking, “What is so great about jazz player of a different ethnicity playing jazz?” Once I started playing the video and saw the instruments with which they were playing some Brubeck, I was amazed. Thanks for sharing, this was fantastic.

  4. captaincasual says . . . | April 13, 2013 / 12:47 am

    Something of the immediacy of the Desmond/Brubeck performance is lacking…

  5. peter shockledge says . . . | April 13, 2013 / 3:34 am

    How wonderful was that !!!!!!!! Just goes to show that all men are equal in the eyes of music, Simply fantastic thank you.

  6. Naresh Kotak says . . . | April 14, 2013 / 11:46 am

    Just Fantastic.Loved every bit of it. What a talented group of artists.
    Thank you.

  7. maryanne says . . . | April 14, 2013 / 10:16 pm

    Just loved it. thank you.

  8. Roy Haliday says . . . | April 15, 2013 / 7:16 am

    This piece here about Brubeck’s engagement with Indian musicians throws fascinating new light on this Pakistani recording:
    http://www.tajmahalfoxtrot.com/?p=149

  9. Gogi Bajaj says . . . | April 15, 2013 / 10:37 pm

    Music musicians sans barriers

  10. Beg says . . . | April 18, 2013 / 11:29 pm

    Simply brilliant execution, par excellence!!

  11. Tondalaya gillespie says . . . | April 22, 2013 / 2:42 pm

    Fantasttic….al-hamdilillah….shabash hai!!!!!

  12. Tim says . . . | April 24, 2013 / 2:16 pm

    I can only say “amen” to all the positive responses here.

  13. Aine de Barra says . . . | April 26, 2013 / 3:42 pm

    What an inspiring and wonderful way to listen to this epic piece of jazz.. Beautiful

  14. Yael Parnes says . . . | May 15, 2013 / 9:33 am

    Take five has always been one of my favourite pieces of music. I had no idea what to expect from this version, but I am glad I have heard it. It’s simply amazing.

  15. Jauhar Munir Shaikh says . . . | May 16, 2013 / 2:43 am

    Amazing ! Just shows how music has no barriers. Hope to see more from this talented bunch .

  16. MS says . . . | May 27, 2013 / 8:38 am

    How inspiring! This is a great rendition. Kudos on a job well done!

  17. Tahir Saleem says . . . | May 27, 2013 / 1:14 pm

    I cannot wait for their rendition of the James Bond Theme!

  18. Dennis Brunet says . . . | May 27, 2013 / 5:10 pm

    Just amazing.

  19. Raj says . . . | May 28, 2013 / 9:31 am

    Music has no boundries in East or West or Pakistan or Hindustan! Fantastic

  20. Music is life, Life is music ! If you understand than you want to understand more says . . . | May 31, 2013 / 5:21 pm

    Very inspirational ,amazing skills and talent.Enjoyed !!!

  21. Dean says . . . | June 2, 2013 / 8:52 am

    Absolutely fantastic rendition of this great classic. Bravo!

  22. haroon Mahomed says . . . | June 2, 2013 / 1:33 pm

    Gr8 stuff

  23. yusuf cajee says . . . | June 5, 2013 / 4:24 am

    Politicians Beware, Musicians are on a warpath to destroy the myth that East can’t mix and live with the West in harmony! STOP the WARS!Let the people learn from each other; not just the greedy corporates to enrich their coffers.

  24. Paul Williams says . . . | June 5, 2013 / 1:14 pm

    Wonderful ! I can’t wait to get their CD.
    Your previous emailer is right the international language of music transcends anything politicians can achieve.
    I don’t understand why muslims I know are discouraged from studying music.

  25. Alexov says . . . | July 4, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    Paul Williams wonders why muslims are discouraged from studying music? If that is, in fact, true, it would probably be because it might be hard to find the will of Allah in the decisions of musicians who play according to their own will. And of course we also see, the world over, how musicians are adored by the masses, who obviously should only be adoring Allah. Look at all the decorative art in the Muslim world, and you’ll not find any signatures at the bottom. But in music, the artist is revered and well known, either locally or worldwide.

  26. nicholas robinson says . . . | July 10, 2013 / 7:34 am

    Like I just told a good musician friend, to see a bunch of Pakistani men sitting around NOT planning jihad — not only NOT planning it but actually playing the “forbidden” “Western” music almost made me weep with gratitude — that there are actually still a few sane people left on the planet. The courage it took just for them to do what they’ve done is incredible, considering what the Taliban would do with them if they were ever caught.

    It’s really sad that I’m lowered to the depths of thinking in those terms but really fantastic that these guys are doing what they’re doing. I’m going to buy their album — they’re all incredibly good musicians!

    And that Korean instrument is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. Next thing you know, there will be a gang of Bornean headhunters playing “Help!” on wood blocks.

  27. Yasmin Bokhari says . . . | August 11, 2013 / 10:21 pm

    Beautiful piece of music. Pakistan has great talent. Very inspiring indeed. Can’t wait to hear more.

  28. Majid says . . . | August 19, 2013 / 1:25 pm

    Nicolas…alas you are so sadly off the-track that it is very funny! You lump a vibrant nation of 180 million people the actions of a few thousand extremists. Pakistan has a vibrant cultural scene that spans all forms of artistic expression. Cities like Lahore (18 Million), Karachi (30 Million +), Islamabad etc. have always had a bent towards experimentation in music, dance etc. by expressing Pakistani interpretations of western music and drama. Remember that there is a long history of the arts in Pakistan dating back to Mohenjo Daro & Harapa.

  29. Rana says . . . | August 19, 2013 / 11:38 pm

    Amazing…. Nice music… Thanks lot..

  30. Damian says . . . | August 29, 2013 / 8:13 pm

    Fantastic version …

  31. William Lanteigne says . . . | October 12, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    I’d like to hear their version of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

  32. tgottschling says . . . | October 12, 2013 / 2:03 pm

    Nice sound for a beautiful day with an October sky.

  33. Belinha Fernandes says . . . | October 12, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    Very good! I loved it!

  34. Jayarava says . . . | October 13, 2013 / 8:21 am

    One of the interesting things about this is that they stay in 5/4 time for the improvised sections, where Brubeck and co slip into 4/4 at that point.

  35. Peace to All says . . . | October 21, 2013 / 4:19 pm

    WOW for the first time ever I am taken aback by the talent and beautiful rendition. This is a positive as music has no boundaries. Pakistan you do have sanity that’s being hidden by a few. Come out and overcome the evil in your country. May the music you make conquer all evil. The world and Pakistanis in general would love you to spread Peace through your music.nYou have certainly made an impact on me. More than I can say for your bullets, missiles and bombs. You have re- discovered your strength all power to you. Thank you and a hundred standing ovations to you.

  36. freddy says . . . | October 28, 2013 / 10:24 pm

    Nope. Wrong. Brubeck and co stay right where they are in 5/4

  37. VRM says . . . | October 30, 2013 / 8:21 am

    Brilliant. Music is universal

  38. VRM says . . . | October 30, 2013 / 8:25 am

    NicholasnYou are showing your ignorance and short sightedness. You westerners are not only myopic, but are so ignorant, that it makes one laugh. The Korean instrument that you talk about is the Indian Sitar. Do some research before putting pen to paper, and if you do not know of things, keep your mouth shut, instead of making a fool of yourself.

  39. VRM says . . . | October 30, 2013 / 8:25 am

    NicholasnYou are showing your ignorance and short sightedness. You westerners are not only myopic, but are so ignorant, that it makes one laugh. The Korean instrument that you talk about is the Indian Sitar. Do some research before putting pen to paper, and if you do not know of things, keep your mouth shut, instead of making a fool of yourself.

  40. Jayarava says . . . | November 6, 2013 / 6:18 am

    You’re right. I must have been thinking of something else.

  41. johne says . . . | November 16, 2013 / 3:38 am

    M. I understand your frustration. Most of us are very aware of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unfortunately we are more aware that there are far too many weirdos in Pakistan who seem to doing exactly what Nic is talking about. Of course there also people in Virginia who are also plotting similar crimes in their quest for so called democracy. Just look at what they have done to Iraq!nThe down side to all this that people like me will never visit places like Lahore in case we get blown up as we wander the streets- or get hit by a drone.

  42. Simon Lopez says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 1:47 am

    The lack of females is disturbing.

  43. Alison says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 2:11 am

    That is absolutely fantastic! I’ve always loved this piece of music and this is a wonderful spin on it.

  44. susimann says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 4:02 am

    the lack of females in the music industry is disturbing period..I don’t for example remember the female members of the Dave Brubeck quartet. Why not just enjoy it for the for the skillful musicianship it is rather than looking for spurious reasons to criticize??

  45. robert smith says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 7:35 am

    Simon made a valid point. They may be good musicians but they also seem to have a flair for gender aparteid.

  46. cm says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 9:23 am

    Don’t be so rude.

  47. Abbas says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 10:50 am

    If anybody is interested in Pakistani fusion music they should check out Coke Studio Pakistan. Awesome music. nFor starters try ‘ Kangna” a Qawalli by Farid Ayaz.

  48. Razzak says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 10:53 am

    Coke Studio Pakistan is fantastic. Plenty of females too.nTry ‘jugni’ by Arif and Meesa Shafi!

  49. Razzak says . . . | December 4, 2013 / 11:14 am

    Check out this video on YouTube:nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjaH2iuoYWE&feature=youtube_gdata_playernnn

  50. Bodhi says . . . | December 5, 2013 / 9:29 pm
  51. Bodhi says . . . | December 5, 2013 / 9:29 pm
  52. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:24 am

    I have to agree with susimann, how many famous jazz musicians from the twentieth century were female? That being said, maybe simon has a good point. Perhaps we should look deeper into this issue.

  53. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:27 am

    Hold the mirror up to the USA buddy…

  54. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:27 am

    Hold the mirror up to the USA buddy…

  55. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:28 am

    Nicholas inspired rudeness…

  56. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:28 am

    Nicholas inspired rudeness…

  57. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:30 am

    It is strange how many posts on here are questioning the religion or culture of the musicians. Do musicians in other cultures have to justify their religious beliefs?

  58. Joe degimedia says . . . | December 7, 2013 / 4:30 am

    It is strange how many posts on here are questioning the religion or culture of the musicians. Do musicians in other cultures have to justify their religious beliefs?

  59. robert smith says . . . | December 14, 2013 / 7:23 am

    Joe, I guess you’ll never know how many famous female Pakistani jazz musicians there are as they are not allowed to practice or play next to men!

  60. Calmcarl says . . . | December 19, 2013 / 4:24 am

    Thank you, that is exquisite.

  61. nooruddin says . . . | January 6, 2014 / 8:15 pm

    MASHAALLAH

  62. D Laird says . . . | February 24, 2014 / 10:56 am

    Loved this, what a great sound.

  63. Luciana Villar says . . . | February 27, 2014 / 11:37 am

    OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  64. Gavirio Vicuta says . . . | February 28, 2014 / 10:12 am

    The truly surprising thing is Moslems are even allowed to play music over there.

  65. Mary Jones says . . . | March 17, 2014 / 10:41 am

    Awesome

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