Pakistani Musicians Play a Delightful 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 in 2012, 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.”

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

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Comments (77)
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  • Derek C. F. Pegritz says:

    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!

  • Anonymoose says:

    This is brilliant. Just exquisite.

  • ayo says:

    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.

  • captaincasual says:

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

  • peter shockledge says:

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

  • Naresh Kotak says:

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

  • maryanne says:

    Just loved it. thank you.

  • Roy Haliday says:

    This piece here about Brubeck’s engagement with Indian musicians throws fascinating new light on this Pakistani recording:

  • Gogi Bajaj says:

    Music musicians sans barriers

  • Beg says:

    Simply brilliant execution, par excellence!!

  • Tondalaya gillespie says:

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

  • Tim says:

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

  • Aine de Barra says:

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

  • Yael Parnes says:

    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.

  • Jauhar Munir Shaikh says:

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

  • MS says:

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

  • Tahir Saleem says:

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

  • Dennis Brunet says:

    Just amazing.

  • Raj says:

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

  • Music is life, Life is music ! If you understand than you want to understand more says:

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

  • Dean says:

    Absolutely fantastic rendition of this great classic. Bravo!

  • haroon Mahomed says:

    Gr8 stuff

  • yusuf cajee says:

    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.

  • Paul Williams says:

    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.

  • Alexov says:

    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.

    • Joe degimedia says:

      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?

    • Joe degimedia says:

      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?

  • nicholas robinson says:

    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.

    • VRM says:

      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.

    • VRM says:

      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.

    • Joe degimedia says:

      Hold the mirror up to the USA buddy…

    • Joe degimedia says:

      Hold the mirror up to the USA buddy…

  • Yasmin Bokhari says:

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

  • Majid says:

    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.

    • johne says:

      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.

  • Rana says:

    Amazing…. Nice music… Thanks lot..

  • Damian says:

    Fantastic version …

  • William Lanteigne says:

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

  • tgottschling says:

    Nice sound for a beautiful day with an October sky.

  • Very good! I loved it!

  • Jayarava says:

    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.

  • Peace to All says:

    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.

  • VRM says:

    Brilliant. Music is universal

  • Simon Lopez says:

    The lack of females is disturbing.

    • susimann says:

      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??

      • robert smith says:

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

        • Joe degimedia says:

          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.

          • robert smith says:

            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!

  • Alison says:

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

  • Abbas says:

    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.

  • Razzak says:

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

  • Razzak says:

    Check out this video on YouTube:nn

  • Calmcarl says:

    Thank you, that is exquisite.

  • nooruddin says:


  • D Laird says:

    Loved this, what a great sound.

  • Luciana Villar says:


  • Mary Jones says:


  • Ash says:

    This is epic! Unfortunately there are some people here who are discussing religion instead of music. People who are saying that music is not allowed to be played in Pakistan or those who think that female singers are not allowed to sing with men are absolutely wrong. They believe what their media is telling them when in fact the truth is just the opposite. The music scene in Pakistan is very vibrant and there is no dearth of female singers here who not only sing with men but also perform around the world. There are no restrictions by the terrorist like some people believe, in fact those terrorists don’t have any control or say in what anyone should be doing and how things should work. Pakistan is not being run by Taliban. They are mere terrorists who carry out terrorist activities but people are living freely and they can do anything they want to. In the end I would like to say thank you for sharing this amazing video!

  • Caleb says:

    Absolutely brilliant, I love this. Very talented group, would love to buy a recording. Thanks for posting

  • Muzako ak chance cahiye ,
    May rap song’s gata hu,
    Agar aap muzako ak chance dey tho may aap ko aucha karke dikhu gaa, (ONE CHANCE)??????????

  • Lesli Sharples HND Bus, BA(Hons), ARBS, MA says:

    This version is the best I have ever heard!!!, huge thanks to all involved. I first came across it on Jazz FM Radioplayer (online) but missed the title orchestra. I searched it and here I am now. This piece is absolutely awsome! Lesli.

  • Fayçal says:

    Thank you for sharing this amazing eastern-western version (it means intercultural) of TF.
    Brillant and comforting. I join all the positive and enthusiastic commentaries.

  • tgottschling says:

    Strange comment.

  • Attila Kígyósi (Hungary) says:

    This music is the real Wonder. Reminds me, there will be a world when we will not need words, languages. It is called heaven or NOW or anything else. This music will be there. Lennon dreamt such kind a world like this one.

    Have the glorious light!

  • Ronald Joseph Kule says:

    Anyone who does not like this cover is… DEAF!

  • Nancy B says:

    Splendid version. Very beautifully orchestrated. Happy to have found this page

  • marg coursey says:

    my motto since i 1st became familiar with the tune “take five”

  • Carolyn Zaremba says:

    What is the name of the sitar player? He’s tremendous. All of them are. Well done, indeed! Love it!

  • Bernard Dessoy says:

    I am a jazz musician myself and a fan of good jazz music, whoever plays it.
    The religious aspect interests me, I am not religious but I have read the Bible and the Koran and there is no condemnation of music. If only Allah is to be worshipped, why do Muslims worship Mohammed? As I understand it he is merely a messenger. If there is a creator, what is wrong with creating music?
    Female jazz musicians? How about Elianne Elias, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Gambarini, Laura Fygi, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh etc. etc. etc.
    Long live Jazz, one of the most creative of art forms.

  • Jasi Magon says:

    It will be nice to be a member of your association and will be pleased to learn more about your association.
    I thank you very much and wish you all A Very Happy New Year.
    With best regards .
    Jasi Magon

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