Seventeen years a member of the Dave Burbeck Quartet, a long and highly successful career, thousands of miles of travelling all over the globe, more than 50 LPs, and that all-time favourite “Take Five” to boot - and then Paul Desmond decides to go it alone in 1967! Unfortunately, he was granted only a few years in which to concentrate on his solo career before his untimely death - and we fans have only a few LPs to listen to and enjoy his soft and gentle timbre and his rhythmic qualities which, thank heavens, are not dominated by the ‘man at the piano’.
Don Sebesky knew how to enhance the highly varied compilation “Summertime” with Paul Desmond’s tenor saxophone. The numbers range from Louis Armstrong’s “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” (Satchmo would probably have some trouble in recognizing his theme!) to the Beatles’ White Album and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”. Film music such as “Lady In Cement” and the waltz “Someday My Prince Will Come” offer Paul Desmond an opportunity to display his talents and to sparkle with his special hallmark of playing tricky 5/4 and 7/4 metres.
The climax he has reserved for the final number: his version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” is one of the most lovely and lyrical ever – and completely free of schmaltz.
This CTI album from Paul Desmond is, despite the large number of horns, a real pleasure - thanks to that magician in the recording studio, Rudy von Gelder, whose genius has captured this large ensemble on tape for our enjoyment.