Paul Desmond is fortunate in his association with Dave Brubeck: not only does his poll-winning bring him (indirectly) financial gain, but the mediocrity of much of Brubeck’s work makes Desmond’s seem better than it is.
Playing here with musicians who are indisputably jazz musicians, his limitations are cruelly exposed. His playing shows an almost complete absence of swing, and his much-vaunted flair for melodic improvisation is seen to be slight when compared with, say, Stan Getz’s.
The rhythm section stays quietly in the background, and the album’s best moments come from Jim Hall, who plays as well here as he has ever done. This is a pleasant, inoffensive, but essentially trivial record.
I Get A Kick Out Of You; For All We Know; Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West (20½ min.) – Greensleeves; You Go To My Head; East Of The Sun; Time After Time (21 min.)
Paul Desmond (alt); Jim Hall (g); Percy Heath (bs); Connie Kay (d). New York City, 5, 6 and 7 September, 1959.
(Warner Bros WM 4020. l2inLP. 35s. 9½d.)