Personnel includes: Paul Desmond (alto saxophone); Bob Prince (arranger, conductor); George Marge, Robert Doly, Paul Winter, Stan Webb, Phil Bodner, Romeo Penque (winds); Albert Richman, Tony Miranda (French horn); Charles Libove, Arnold Eidus, Anahid Ajemian, Harry Glickman (violin); Harry Zaratzian, Alfred Brown (viola); Alan Shulman, Harvey Shapiro (cello); Gene Bianco, Gloria Agostni (harp); Jim Hall (guitar); Gene Cherico, Milt Hinton (bass); Connie Kay, Bobby Thomas, Osie Johnson (drums).
Producer: George Avakian.
Reissue producer: Barry Feldman.
Principally recorded at Webster Hall, New York, New York between June 19, 1961 & March 15, 1962. Includes liner notes by Doug Ramsey and George Avakian.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
This is part of Bluebird Records "First Editions" series.
Recording sessions that pair jazz musicians with string orchestras can be dicey affairs, artistically speaking. More often than not, they represent an attempt to dilute the edginess of jazz and make it palatable for listeners with softer ears. DESMOND BLUE, however, succeeds marvelously. Given alto saxophonist Paul Desmond's natural penchant for cool, silky tones and highly nuanced phrasing, the addition of lush strings (arranged here by Bob Prince) is perfectly complementary, and the results are rich, complex, and alluring, never syrupy or sentimental.
The presence of guitar legend Jim Hall adds another dimension to the proceedings. Hall plays with great intuitive restraint and balance, yet is progressive in terms of his harmonic and rhythmic approach. The set focuses mostly on standards, including "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Body and Soul," and "My Funny Valentine," but it is the mood--sophisticated and soothing--that dominates throughout. This is introspective music that will undoubtedly appeal to Desmond fans, and should win over jazz purists and lovers of contemporary orchestral music alike.