Paul Desmond was born on this date in 1924. As I was contemplating how to observe his 88th birthday without repeating material from the previous seven Rifftides observances of the occasion, a reader came to the rescue. Frank Roellinger sent a link and the following message.
There is an ever-so-slight chance that you may not have heard this track before. I first became aware of its existence in 1963 when I saw that it was on a 2-LP set called “Playboy Jazz All-Stars”, or something like that. If you are familiar with it, perhaps you will listen anyway to marvel once again at Paul’s limitless imagination as he plays a solo unlike any other of his. Perhaps not among his best, but certainly something to marvel at anyway. Dave does quite well, too, and the recording quality is very high.
The track is called “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It is from Stratford, Ontario, Canada, in 1956, with Desmond, Brubeck, Norman Bates and Joe Dodge. The solos, whatever the tune has been called over the years, are based on the blues progression Desmond and Dave Brubeck perfected in the 1950s, when it was known as “Balcony Rock” and “Audrey.”
The Rifftides staff thanks Mr. Roellinger for unearthing a rare peformance. The picture at the upper left shows Paul happy on the stone veranda of El Rancho Ramsey in Bronxville, New York, circa 1974. We miss him.