Paul Desmond, saxophonist
birth name: Paul Emil Breitenfeld

Paul Desmond

November 25, 1924, San Francisco, CA ~ May 30, 1977, New York, NY

It doesn’t even have to be the sound of a woman’s voice. It can be the martini-dry tone of Paul Desmond’s sax, caressed by the sweet seduction of Brazilian rhythms. You’re probably more familiar with Desmond as the longtime musical foil to Dave Brubeck and the prime architect of the most popular and familiar melody in jazz, Take Five. But Desmond also led quite a few sessions without Brubeck, including a few that featured other top-shelf players such as fellow saxman Gerry Mulligan, guitarist Jim Hall and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Bossa Antigua is the title song to a ’64 session with Hall that might seem like a cheap ploy to steal a little of Stan Getz's mojo (he broke through in a big way the previous year with Getz/Gilberto and The Girl From Ipanema). But it’s still Desmond and Hall - two absolute masters who could shine in any setting. ~ Rubber City Review: Soothe Me ~ April 27, 2013 © Rubber City Review

The quintessential cool jazz saxophonist, an alto with a shimmering sound and light, airy playing who became best known for composing Take Five. ~ Allmusic: Paul Desmond ~ retrieved November 10, 2015 © Allmusic

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May 30, 1998 ~ Billboard Hot 100 ~ #3 (3) Shania Twain, You're Still The One ~ #2 (1) Mariah Carey, My All ~ #1 (2) Next, Too Close


Paul didn't get to enjoy college life for very long because in 1943, his freshman year, he was drafted into the Army and spent the next three years playing in an Army band in San Francisco. During the postwar years he and Dave Brubeck worked together in clubs in the San Francisco area and near Reno, Nevada. In 1950, Desmond left for New York and Brubeck stayed in California, ultimately forming a jazz trio that would attract Desmond back to make it a quartet in 1951. The group caught on with the college crowd after a 1953 album recorded at Oberlin College in Ohio. ~ Vinyl Time Machine: Paul Desmond ~ retrieved November 25, 2015 © Vinyl Time Machine

Paul Desmond ~ Voted into the 1977 Downbeat Jazz Hall Of Fame (Readers Poll).

As a Session musician, guest or band member

Dave Brubeck ~ Time Out (1959) ~ Ranked #18 Jazzwise 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World in 2006 ~ Brubeck rarely gets his due. A shame, because his good qualities are pretty special. For starters, he knew exactly the way to get the best from Paul Desmond, and for that we should all be down on our knees in thanks. ~ 2006 © Jazzwise

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