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Paul Desmond: Bossa Antigua

The bossa was no longer nova when Paul Desmond got around to working in the style, but this 1964 recording ranks with the best Brazilian-inspired jazz. His pure, melodic approach required almost no adjustment (compared with Getz, for example) and his original writing, which dominates on this release, is strongly idiomatic. Connie Kay and Eugene Wright do great work in making the Bossa beat live and breathe. But the biggest attractions are Desmond’s lovely sound and inspired phrasing, and the astonishing work of Jim Hall. Guitar fans don’t like to hear it, but there are really no guitarists after Wes in the very top rank of soloists. Hall at his best does compare with any piano accompanist of the time, however, and his solos are as well-conceived as Tommy Flanagan’s or Barry Harris’. The interplay between Hall and Desmond is always great, but the unhurried elegance of Bossa Antigua is special even for this great team. Three fine alternate takes enhance this very desirable release.

Originally Published