Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Paul Desmond: The Complete Paul Desmond RCA Victor Recordings Featuring Jim Hall

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

True enough in one sense, what with the instrument’s close connection to bebop, Desmond’s self-characterization as “the world’s slowest alto player” reflected another, less obvious level of deprecation in that it glossed over his distinctive, melodic invention and pristine tone. It wasn’t that he was slow, rather he phrased broadly, defining space instead of filling it-a rare quality that helped distinguish him as one of the alto saxophone’s unique stylists.

But while those features were well apparent during Desmond’s tenure with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the ensemble’s strong group identity effectively prevented him from receiving due credit. Of course, he played a role in being known as a band member rather than an artist in his own right by rarely recording as a leader outside of the quartet, the major exception being the important series of early-’60s dates that resulted in the five albums represented here-Desmond Blue, Take Ten, Glad To Be Unhappy, Bossa Antigua and Easy Living, all produced by George Avakian and featuring guitarist Jim Hall, a kindred spirit musically and, in all probability, personally.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.