No sooner had I added Thomas Cunniffe’s website Jazz History Online to the Rifftides blogroll (bottom of the right column) than Tom posted an essay about the last period of Paul Desmond’s musical life. That was the era, all too brief, of Desmond’s Canadian quartet. The piece did not come as a complete surprise to me. As he was in the final stage of preparing it, Tom asked me to help him get permission to use a fine Ron Hudson photo of the quartet. The picture appears in my biography of Desmond. On the left here, you see a reduced section of it.
The essay is a fine summary of the Canadian quartet’s history and its concert, club and recording activity. Mr. Cunniffe discusses the music and the players with insight and humor, and Paul’s final days with sensitivity. The layout and graphics are tasteful. He includes helpful links to sources and references. What’s not to like? I would not go so far as to suggest that you read it instead of my book, but I heartily recommend it. For “Paul Desmond and the Canadians,” click here and the digital magic carpet will take you to Jazz History Online.
After you have read Cunniffe on Desmond, come back and listen to Desmond with the Canadians at Bourbon Street in Toronto. Whoever uploaded the track to YouTube identifies himself as “paganmaestro.” Paul would have liked that, I think.
Ted O’Reilly says:
September 1, 2012 1:17 pm
Excellent item, and website. Interestingly, the ‘original’ Canadian quartet of Ed Bickert, Don Thompson and Terry Clarke were all in the same room two weeks ago, and Rob McConnell was there in spirit. Ed was a special guest (in the audience) at a concert by a reunited Boss Brass at the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival in small-town Picton, Ontario, about 2 hours east of Toronto. I took pictures at the concert.
The fest’s creative director Brian Barlow was the band’s long-time percussionist, and with star soloist Guido Basso (a County resident) got the alumni band together for a single concert to remember Rob, and the great fun the guys had playing his music. Rick Wilkins rehearsed and conducted, appropriately, as he was a long-serving reedman in the band, and had carte blanche from McConnell to write anything he wanted for the band.
Don Thompson played piano (he first played with the Boss Brass as its percussionist, then as the bassist, finally at the piano), Terry Clarke was on drums, as he was for most of the band’s life, and in Ed Bickert’s guitar chair, his “musical son” Reg Schwager. Steve Wallace was on bass, creating a powerful engine room for a great orchestra. ‘Twas a memorable night of music!