The French jazz critic Alain Gerber is also a novelist, or vice versa. He published a book in 2007 that may be a biography, a novel, or both. Its title in French is Paul Desmond et le côté féminin du monde, or Paul Desmond and the Feminine Side of the World. That is the extent of my ability to translate from French to English, and I owe it to Google. I’m the guy who gets by in France for two weeks at a time with Excusez-moi de vous deranger. Here is the Googleized English version of the French publisher’s description of the book:
He loved burning cigarettes at both ends. He loved scotch dewars with a youthful zeal, and then go home to around the early morning, waking in the middle of the afternoon and groping her horn-rimmed spectacles, and contemplate his hangover in the mirror of the bathroom, with a sense of accomplishment. He liked to kill time with extreme gentleness. Dying without impatience. discuss the eye. Talking about literature, poetry, ballet, film, comedy. But, above all, he loved women. […] They were his smoke without fire. telling and music prodigy, this dissipation of shimmer, this splendid infertility.
As Desmond’s English language biographer and drinking companion, I now have one more reason to regret his no longer being among us. I would give about anythinglet’s say a bottle of Dewarsto read that passage to him, looking up and pausing after “groping her horn-rimmed spectacles.” Paul infrequently laughed out loud. He was more given to knowing chuckles, but that line might have done the trick. The French website offers this passage from the book:
“All it was – a saxophonist, star or unloved, Don Juan, a man without a wife, a writer without literature, alcoholic, desperate, lonely, good guest, a nostalgic, casual, maker of epigrams and witticisms, amateur puns, storyteller, and many other things – all he was, he never was really “
To see it in Alain Gerber’s native tongue, go here.
For the English translation of the web page, go here. I can find no evidence that Paul Desmond et le côté féminin du monde exists in anything but French.
Skill in languages is unnecessary for the enjoyment of Desmond, Jim Hall, Gene Wright and Connie Kay playing Matt Dennis’s timeless ballad “Angel Eyes.” This is from one of Paul’s RCA quartet albums of the 1960s. Seldom mentioned in assessments of Desmond’s and Hall’s playing is their ability to find blues implications in non-blues pieces.