Desmond Redux In Berlin

We may as well keep the Desmond string running through the weekend. After the Dave Brubeck Quartet disbanded at the end of 1967, Desmond did not play for more than a year. It wasn’t a matter of simply not performing in public or not recording. He did not take his saxophone out of the case, allegedly concentrating on writing How Many Of You Are There In The Quartet? the book that never happened. He also lolled around in the Caribbean. Toward the end of 1968, he relented to the extent of recording for the A&M label’s Horizon subsidiary. He was existing comfortably on his invested quartet earnings and the royalties from “Take Five,” but in the early seventies something within told him that he needed the gratification of regular playing. He began appearing as a guest with Brubeck’s reconstituted quartet or with Dave and his sons in the Two Generations Of Brubeck group. The Desmond interregnum period is covered in (here comes the shameless book plug) Chapter 29 of Take Five: The Public And Private Lives Of Paul Desmond.

Brubeck had taken less time to succumb again to the compulsion to play jazz. He continued to write his long-form concert works, but he assembled a band with Jack Six on bass and Alan Dawson playing drums. Gerry Mulligan, whom his friend Desmond once described as “the consummate prima donna bandleader,” put aside his own leadership and a fraction of his ego to tour with Brubeck. When Desmond joined them, they often played one of his favorite Mulligan pieces, “Line For Lyons,” as they did in a performance at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1972. This clip, new to me, materialized on You Tube in the past few days.

 Desmond was costumed in the glen plaid garment known as The Suit, nearly inseparable from him in his later years. We get closeups of both in another performance from the Berlin Festival. Paul is featured on a ballad he cherished, “For All We Know.” 


Have a good weekend.

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  1. Alexander Cohen says

    Shameless book plug notwithstanding, what nice riffs on Jeru and Paul. Ich liebe Line 4 Lyons. Counterpoint uber alles! Much appreciate the memories. Let me also recommend: the excellent cd reissue “The Paul Desmond Quartet” on Verve (A&M recorded 10 and 11/75 in Toronto) with liner notes by the shameless DR. It features a tasty “Line for Lyons” culled from those sessions but not appearing on the original vinyl. The Quartet include Canadian Masters Ed Bickert on guitar, Don Thompson on bass and Jerry Fuller on drums. Wendy would be my favourite track.

  2. Mel Narunsky says

    Alexander, “Take Five: The Public And Private Lives of Paul Desmond” really is a book well worth having. I know because I own a copy. The only things I have against it are that it is cumbersome and heavy and difficult to store.
    I am going to print out all these Desmond posts and comments to keep with the book.

  3. Dr. Mike Baughan says

    Many thanks, Mr. Ramsey, for the book — read it cover to cover — and more tidbits like above as they trickle in, & for ‘Desmond on the Nature of Fame’. Us DesManiacs can’t get enough of ‘Uncle Paul’ & his great works while on this earth.

  4. Old Baleine says

    Thanks again, Doug, for more sweetness and beauty. It’s always such a pleasure to drop in on your site, it’s almost a guilty pleasure!

  5. Frank Roellinger says

    Doug, Thanks for this, and for your excellent biography of Paul. He once played “For All We Know” at my request. Anybody know whether there is a DVD of this available? The sound on YouTube is not very good. “All The Things You Are” may be downloaded from as a very high quality video. I inquired at this website, which offers other DVDs, and got the response that this “was from a TV show”.

  6. says

    “For all we know” later moved down a minor third and became “Emily” with a few small modifications… Wish there was some video of the Canadian Quartet! Doug – LOVED the book, there’s at least one big Desmond fan here in Tokyo.

    • Robert LaRue says

      Not “Emily,” but “Wendy.” Desmond liked and often played “Emily,” the theme from the movie “The Americanization Of Emily.” But “Wendy” is the name of his composition based on the changes to “For All We Know.” See Mr. Ramsey’s book for how Desmond’s tune came to have that tile.

    • says

      Matt, there is some video. The Desmond/Bickert/Thompson/Fuller group appeared on a Canadian TV show “Take 30” There’s some talk with Paul, show chatter with the two co-hosts and about 20 minutes of music. It’s lovely, as I know Doug can attest…

      • Doug Ramsey says

        Yes, I can attest——and protest. Ted may be able to get the full interview and quartet performance in Canada, but someone—perhaps the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—has blocked it in the United States. I included the video in a Rifftides post a year and a half ago. Now, when you try to play it, you get a black screen with white letters announcing, “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”

        Nonetheless, if you go here, you can read background about the interview. Then, go here for some of the interview bookended by segments of the CBC’s Mary Lou Finlay and Paul Soles discussing Desmond on Finlay’s Take 30 program. (Sorry about the goofy insurance ad at the beginning. I’m even sorrier that the quartet has been edited out.) Finally, go to the Pure Desmond website to read a transcript of the full interview. That’s the best we can do for now. If the full Take 30 segment is allowed back on the web, Rifftides will post it.

        • Dr.Mike Baughan says

          In Take 30 video, Mary Lou’s detection of ‘nervousness’ was actually his emphysema & struggle to breathe that you can see Desmond dealing with on that video. Great video, thanks!