Take Five (The Book) Goes Digital

As of today, of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond begins its new existence as an ebook. The hardcover edition has sold out. Used copies are going for as much as $150 on book and auction sites, but new hardbound copies are history. The electronic transformation is good news on several counts:

The book will continue to be available. For now, it is on Kindle. Publisher Malcolm Harris of Take Five Kindle EditionParkside Publications tells me that he plans to have it up on Apple and Barnes & Noble within a week or so.

The ebook edition has all of the features of the hardbound, including the nearly 200 photographs, the chapter notes, the solo transcriptions, the discography, the extensive index and Dave and Iola Brubeck’s foreword.

The ebook edition is easily portable. The most frequent complaint about the five-pound, 10-and-a-half-by-11-inch original was, “How am I supposed to read this thing on an airplane?” Now you can, after the pilot says it’s okay to fire up your Kindle, iPad, Nook or Sony Reader.

 The ebook sells for less than a third of the list price of the original hardcover edition.

Among other honors, Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and the Jazz Journalists Association Book of the Year Award. Here are a few of its plaudits:

Scrupulously researched and written with an attractive combination of affection and candor, it casts a bright light on Desmond’s troubled psyche without devaluing his considerable achievements as an artist. “Any of the great composers of melodies—Mozart, Schubert, Gershwin—would have been gratified to have written what Desmond created spontaneously,” Mr. Ramsey says. Strong words, but Take Five makes them stick. —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

The telling is lyrical, funny, nostalgic, provocative, and allusive — just like a Paul Desmond solo.”
 —Gary Giddins, author of Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of its Second Century

Doug Ramsey, the saxophonist’s friend for 20 years before Desmond’s death in 1977, constructs the full person as well as digging out much more of his writing than was known. A major piece of jazz scholarship, the book cuts no corners. —Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

Every jazz musician should be lucky enough to get a biography as thoroughly researched as Doug Ramsey’s new tome about alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. —Paul de Barros, The Seattle Times

When I learned that Doug Ramsey was writing a biography of Paul Desmond, I was pleased and relieved, because I can think of no one better qualified to do so. Ramsey has the distinct advantage of being a musician, someone who understands how a jazz musician thinks and how amazing Paul’s talent really was…
 —Dave Brubeck (from the Foreword to Take Five)

Doug Ramsey’s Take Five is an invaluable addition to jazz literature—by an especially enduring writer on the music. I knew Paul Desmond, but I found so much more I did not know. —Nat Hentoff, author of American Music Is

The detail of the research is astonishing. The writing is exquisite. I’ve never seen a biography like it.
—Gene Lees, author of Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer, 
and publisher of The Jazzletter

Doug Ramsey has illuminated Paul Desmond’s life and music with insight and compassion, gleaned from diligent research and genuine friendship, and offered with the touch of a true storyteller. This is the finest biography we’ve had of an important jazz figure. —Dan Morgenstern, Director, Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies;
 author, Living with Jazz

This is a fascinating portrait of a remarkable artist who turns out to have been not at all easy to know. It is a rare and valuable book largely because Doug Ramsey (who began with the advantage of having known Desmond about as well as anyone ever did) has approached his subject with skill, sensitivity and — above all — the ability to thoroughly involve himself in the project. When Ramsey lets us share his conversations with people who played important roles in Paul’s life, it is as if we were there with them, not just reading, but listening and learning. 
 —Orrin Keepnews, veteran music producer and author, 
founder of Riverside and Milestone Records

Brubeck Q + Teo

To order the Kindle edition, please go here.

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  1. John Pickworth says

    Great news about kindle version of “Take Five”!

    Always interested in your blog.

  2. Dick Unsworth says

    I’ve just been listening to the original Disc that starts with “Take Five”. I will never forget the public event in which I was playing, with “Take Five” as the most important event. As the bass player in the group, I had to make Take Five sound real — “one,two,three//four,five – one,two,thee//four,five.” Just the other day, I explained to a family member (next generation, of course) how important that little departure was — especially with Brubeck having studied with a famous French pianist before he got into such jazz. How nice to hear that it’s getting a wider original attention. Thanks to Doug Ramsey for giving it new life.

  3. says

    Fantastic news and reviews! Congratulations on your great work and I’m happy to hear “Take Five” will live on as an eBook for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Sounds like a careful transfer from hardcover to ebook.

  4. mel says

    I’d love to get the ebook – I keep my hardcover copy in the cardboard carton that it came in and, as it’s so heavy it’s always a schlep to get it out, open and peruse it and afterwards put it back. An ebook would be so much easier…

    @ Kaos Cowok: You don’t need a Kindle – ebooks can be read on any computer – you just have to install the free mobipocket reader.

  5. Hal Strack says

    As a life-long close friend of the great Paul Desmond, starting with having learned to play the saxophone at his side, I am pleased that the hard copy book was sufficiently appreciated to sell out. I am glad that there will be an ebook to make it continually available in an easily readable form. What is so remarkable about it…book or ebook…is that Doug Ramsey has so correlated all of the diverse inputs that the book reflects knowledge of Paul that is much fuller than any of the contributing individuals knew. Through these mediums Paul will live on in his many facets, as well as his music being in full view!

    • Doug Ramsey says

      General Strack (USAF, retired) was one of the most important of those contributing individuals. Without his help, the book would have been considerably thinner.

        • Doug Ramsey says

          Mr. Breitenfeld, who lives in Australia, is a professional saxophonist and a cousin of Paul Desmond.

  6. Carol Inouye says

    It is great to have a hard bound copy of Doug Ramsey’ss Take Five, but since they’ve all sold out, it’s nice to know an e-book edition is up next.
    You should get it! Doug is a talented and funny man whose writing entertains and informs; his dedication to researching the subject, and his dedication to jazz, are remarkable.

  7. Lucille Dolab says

    Thrilled for you and so happy for those who enjoy e-books, but saddened that
    the beautiful book with such magnificent photos is no longer available in its original
    form! It graces our coffee table and Is a wonderful way to introduce those who don’t know jazz to one of its supreme artists and writers! We always have great Desmond cds close by to play for the uninitiated!
    We were about to purchase one for our son and are regretful that we waited so long! Now, he will have to wait to inherit ours, which we hope won’t be for quite a while yet! ; >)

  8. Terry Weldon says

    Upon seeing this entry I immediately downloaded your book and read it over the weekend. I can’t praise too highly the quality of the research or the tone of the writing. Being Desmond’s friend, it must have been difficult for you to maintain objectivity, but you succeeded. Congratulations on a great addition to the jazz library.

  9. Светлана says

    I am pleased to inform the readers of the blog that in Moscow – Russia, not Idaho :-), there are at least two copies of hard cover edition of the splendid Doug’s Book – one at the American Cultural Center Library and another on my coffee table as a desk book enjoyed by me at spare moments.