Paul Desmond: Easy Living


The front cover of this LP says featuring Jim Hall but he is really a co-leader and equal partner. The two link up and prove to be a partnership made in jazz musical heaven, so well do they blend in and complement each other.

The programme consists of eight hardy standards which the two front liners play elegantly with assistance from three top bass players and Connie Kay on drums. The three-year recording period explains the three bass men – this set was recorded in the days when top players were out on the road most of the time and only in NYC occasionally.

Desmond kicks off When Joanna Loved Me, with some delightfully smooth and inventive alto choruses. Hall follows with his warm guitar sound and equally inventive improvised variations.

Desmond, along with Lee Konitz, was just about the only top-drawer modern alto player to have and keep his own personal sound and not copy Charlie Parker. It was a sweet sound, smooth and rich as silk, pretty much a pure alto sound.

Here he produces thoroughly original versions of almost every track but particularly Here’s That Rainy Day, Easy Living and That Old Feeling. Bassist Cherico introduces an uptempo Blues For Fun, the only 12-bar on offer but one where Desmond and Hall seem to enjoy themselves immensely and turn in impeccable performances.

The rhythm combinations work well too with the mix of Percy Heath and Kay coming out on top, closely followed by the other two bass players.

This is modern jazz of the mid-60s with a sweet and velvety texture but none the worse for that, played as it is with two top stylists and benefiting from ideal bass and drum pairings. The sound is excellent on this 180-gram vinyl and the cover is an exact replica of the original RCA release in 1966.

When Joanna Loved Me; That Old Feeling; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Here’s That Rainy Day; Easy Living; I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face; Bewitched; Blues For Fun (41.06)
Desmond (as); Jim Hall (elg); Gene Cherico, Eugene Wright or Percy Heath (b); Connie Kay (d). NYC, June 1963, July & September 1964 & June 1965.
RCA LSP 3480 / Speakers Corner