Paul Desmond-Jim Hall Quartet: Complete Recordings

The altoist and guitarist's 1959-1964 small groups with Connie Kay, Percy Heath, George Duvivier and others are collected across four CDs


Paul Desmond was a perennial poll-winner but he made very few albums as a leader during the 50s. At the time he was the featured soloist with Dave Brubeck’s quartet which had overtaken George Shearing’s quintet as the highest-paid small group on the jazz scene. He also recorded some titles with Dick Collins, Dave Van Kreidt, Barney Kessel and the Bill Bates Singers in 1954.

Two years later his piano-less date with Don Elliott benefited from a witty sleeve-note from his close friend Mort Sahl, whose humorous reference to Joe Dodge, the drummer on the date, as Joe Chevrolet has been confusing discographers for years. In 1957 he was the co-leader on a session with Gerry Mulligan. Then, in 1959, he began a long-time collaboration with Jim Hall.

The uptempo East Of The Sun finds him weaving his customary free-flowing magic, climaxing with two choruses of inspired interplay with the guitar. For All We Know was one of his favourite ballads and it became the basis of his contrafact Wendy, which he introduced in 1975 with Ed Bickert. His passionate performance here is on a par with his 1953 College Of The Pacific recording with Brubeck and for added interest there is a subtle two-bar modulation at the end of each chorus.

He performs the A sections of I Get A Kick Out Of You over pedal points from Hall and Percy Heath before launching forth on three inventive choruses with the rhythm section digging in behind him. His coda over an extended vamp is a highlight.

Jim Hall creates a suitably medieval feel on Greensleeves by switching to acoustic guitar for a quite charming examination of this traditional piece. Desmond obviously liked it because he recorded Greensleeves again in 1971 with the MJQ.

Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West is one of his rare blues excursions, concluding with some stimulating counterpoint with Hall. Bossa novas such as Black Orpheus, El Prince, Samba Cantina and Bossa Antigua were all perfect vehicles for his delicate lyricism.

Jim Hall, of course, proves to be a perfect foil throughout, whether soloing or providing accompanying lines that give form and structure to each performance.

CD1: (1) East Of The Sun; For All We Know; I Get A Kick Out Of You; Greensleeves; Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West; Time After Time; You Go To My Head; Susie; Out Of Nowhere; The One I Love; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Samba De Orfeu; Poor Butterfly (76.18)
CD2: Theme From “Black Orpheus”; El Prince; Alone Together; Nancy With The Laughing Face; Embarcadero; Blues For Fun; Take Ten; That Old Feeling; Angel Eyes; Rude Old Man; A Taste Of Honey; When Joanna Loved Me; Samba Cantina; Bossa Antigua (72.57)
CD3: Samba Cepeda; A Ship Without A Sail; The Night Has A Thousand Eyes; Any Other Time; The Girl From East 9th Street; Curacao Doloroso; O Gato; Stranger In Town; By The River Saint Marie; Glad To Be Unhappy; Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo; Easy Living; All Across The City (71.28)
CD4: All Through The Night; I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face; Here’s That Rainy Day; Bewitched; (2) My Funny Valentine; Desmond Blue; Then I’ll Be Tired Of You; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Late Lament; I Should Care; Like Someone In Love; Ill Wind; Body And Soul; Autumn Leaves; Imagination; Advise And Consent (70.55)
(1) Desmond (as); Hall (elg); Connie Kay (d) with, collectively, Percy Heath, George Duvivier, Gene Cherico, Gene Wright (b). NYC. 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1964. (2) as (1) add Bob Prince Orchestra. NYC, 1961, 1962.
Essential Jazz Classics EJC 5570