Paul Desmond: Take Eighty-Seven

Referring to the “Going Like 80 (+)” post of November 23, Rifftides reader Ned Corman writes:

And, of course, Paul would have been 87, if I have it right.

Yes, he was born on Thanksgiving, November 25, 1924. It has become a Rifftides tradition to observe the occasion. Lamenting Paul’s absence, one of Desmond’s favorite playing and socializing partners, Jim Hall, once said that he would have been a great old man. That makes sense; he was a great young man. Dave Brubeck said, “Boy, I sure miss Paul Desmond.”
I found this photograph among Desmond’s belongings and included it in his biography. Undated, probably from the late 1950s, it shows Paul and Duke Ellington chatting at the railing of a ship. Where they were bound, I have been unable to discover. Remembering both, let’s watch and listen to Desmond as he solos with the classic Brubeck Quartet on Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.” This was at the University of Rome in 1959.

Now, here’s Desmond with his own quartet from the Pure Desmond album (1974), with Ellington’s “Warm Valley.” Ed Bickert, guitar; Ron Carter, bass; Connie Kay, drums.

Brubeck’s not alone; boy, I sure miss Paul Desmond.

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  1. Peter Bergmann says

    An evening at a jazz-bar. Two men are sitting at a table discussing music and musicians. One is championing the work of a modern young saxophonist in glowing terms:
    “His music will be played when Paul Desmond is forgotten”
    The other replies nonchalantly:
    “Hmmm, and not until!”

    Happy birthday, Paul !

    • Kathy O'Connor says

      What a great comeback! Music like Paul Desmond’s will never be forgotten. I keep hoping that somewhere someone will find some previously unreleased material out there and a new DVD will be available! Happy birthday Paul!

  2. brian turner says

    I would follow “Rifftides” if only for the Desmond stuff….but there are so many blessings here, thank you Doug.