Ken Dryden’s long review for All About Jazz of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond notes an aspect of the book with which I took some pains.
Ramsey avoids the use of psychobabble to explain Desmond’s relationship with his mentally disturbed mother, his reluctance to make long term commitments to any of the women in his life, or his experimentation with drugs. Instead one comes to accept them as part of his extremely complex character.
Big-band album of the year? It’s too early to say, but the first-ever live recording by the superlative Bill Holman Band has earned front-runner status for that honor and will surely be hard to trump. Holman, an acknowledged master in the realm of writing and arranging for large ensembles, already has one Grammy Award in the trophy case (for Brilliant Corners, his ingenious adaptation of the music of Thelonious Monk), and could soon have another if NARAS members lay aside any unreasonable biases and vote with their ears.
To read Bowers’ full review, go here.
Full disclosure: I wrote the liner essay for the album. It’s always fun to analyze one of Holman’s arrangements.
In “Woodrow,” leading up to Christian Jacob’s piano solo, Willis has the trumpets and the trombones play catch with a triplet figure. The reeds expand on the figure in ascent and Jacob echoes it as he begins his solo. Midway through Ray Herrmann’s tenor sax solo, triplet figures emerge again, this time tossed back and forth between the trumpets and the reeds, but only momentarily. The triplets make a final appearance in the ascending lines the sections play to end the piece. It is one of the threads that holds the arrangement together. Another, recalling the trombone section’s opening notes, is Bob Efford’s baritone sax combination of punchy off-beat quarter notes, and long tones. The baritone provides underscoring as the brass and reeds intermingle phrases that add up to the sort of thing Brookmeyer was talking about when he said that Holman’s arrangements speak. This is musical conversation of the highest order.
The rest of the notes come with the CD.