There's no mistaking the haunting, floating sound of Paul Desmond's saxophone. A member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Desmond was one of the greatest lyric improvisers in jazz. On "Desmond Blue" his great solos are complemented and enhanced by a string-filled orchestra. "Take Ten," an undisputed classic, features Jim Hall on guitar and showcases Desmond exhibiting a variety of musical colors and moods. This pairing is one of our must-have reissues.
2 LPs on 1 CD: DESMOND BLUE (1962)/TAKE TEN (1963).
Personnel includes: Paul Desmond (alto saxophone); Jim Hall (guitar); Gene Cherico, Gene Wright (bass); Connie Kay (drums).
Recorded at Webster Hall, New York, New York. Originally released on RCA (2438) & RCA (2569).
Personnel: Paul Desmond (alto saxophone); Jim Hall (guitar); Connie Kay (drums).
Liner Note Author: Paul Desmond.
Recording information: Webster Hall, New York, NY.
Arranger: Bob Prince.
Pairing the urbane elegance and wit of Paul Desmond's alto saxophone with the bopping chiaroscuro of Jim Hall's guitar virtually guarantees sublime jazz of the highest order. These sessions from the early '60s for the most part deliver on that guarantee. In his early twenties at the time of these performances, Desmond had already made his name as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and as the writer of its hit "Take Five." He is joined by Hall on both of these sets.
1962's Desmond Blue features the saxophonist and guitarist in the midst of Bob Prince's string and woodwind arrangements. The settings are tasteful and provide thoughtful structures for the soloists, but the pervasive accompaniment also limits the interaction between Desmond and Hall. Still, the pair sounds terrific, which makes up for the occasionally overbearing arrangements. On the other hand, 1963's Take Ten is a quartet date that offers a full serving of the Desmond/Hall chemistry. The title track is a Desmond venture in 5/4 that recalls its namesake from Brubeck's Time Out. Bassist Gene Cherico and drummer Connie Kay contribute sophisticated, graceful support (Gene Wright is the bassist on the title track). With Desmond's own bossa nova pieces, "El Prince" and "Embarcadero," and a pair of Luiz Bonf tunes, the set has a distinctly Latin feel. Along with the pleasures of the music, not to be missed are Desmond's liner notes, which are a priceless example of the leader's renowned self-deprecating sense of humor. ~ Jim Todd