Pure Desmond: Plays James Bond Songs

Bond themes are recast in bossa, swing and other styles, with altoist Lorenz Hargassner getting close to Desmond in sound and inspiration

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This album of songs associated with the James Bond franchise follows on from Pure Desmond’s CDs When Lights Are Low (2012) and Audrey (2018). The quartet seem to have taken their name from Paul Desmond’s 1974 Pure Desmond album for Creed Taylor’s CTI label. Doug Ramsey’s exhaustive Take Five biography describes that album as “one of the glories of Desmond’s discography”.

Anyone expecting to hear some lyrical Desmond magic here will not be disappointed because the leader Lorenz Hargassner gets pretty close to the master in sound and conception. Having said that, Seattle-born Allison Neale runs him pretty close.

Playing time is short (each title averages a little over three minutes) but the group find inspiration in what might appear to be the most unlikely of material by dressing these well-known themes in some new clothes.

From Russia With Love and Nobody Does It Better become subtle bossa novas. Die Another Day opens in contrapuntal form before settling into a dramatic ostinato. You Know My Name is a foot-tapping swinger and We Have All The Time In The World is a gentle stroll at 36 bpm, a tempo that Desmond used to thrive on.

Special mention should be made of Johann Weiss for his work here. He reminds me of the late Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo both as a soloist and accompanist.

Discography
The James Bond Theme; From Russia With Love; We Have All The Time In The World; Die Another Day; Diamonds Are Forever; Licence To Kill; Nobody Does It Better; You Know My Name; Tomorrow Never Dies; No Time To Die; You Only Live Twice (40.14)
Lorenz Hargassner (as); Johann Weiss (elg); Christian Flohr (b); Sebastian Deufel (d). Germany and Switzerland, 2020.
Major Music 69014 04936