16 April 2008

Alternate Alto

Finally a warm breezy day in Chicago! It's been almost six months since the mercury hit 70 around here but today the streak is broken. In tangential honor of the event, please enjoy a smooth and easy alto saxophonist. Charlie Parker is likely to remain at the top of all any "best alto" list, but today I bring you my (and supposedly Parker's) favorite.

Paul Desmond, best know for his years with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He also wrote the groups monster hit Take Five. Desmond described his approach as "wanting to sound like a dry martini." I think he pulled it off in this performance of "Three to Get Ready" from godknows what year, somewhere in the 70s.

Desmond's low-key lyrical approach to inhabiting a tune had magical results. I remember hearing his version of Paul Simon's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and thinking that it sounded like Simon wrote it for Desmond.

Sadly but not surprisingly, Desmond the three-pack-a-day man died of lung cancer in 1977, at the age of 52. But that's too gloomy a thought for such a beautiful day.

Further reading

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