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 Parkside 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
To order the Kindle edition, please go here.