## 10-12 - bonus tracks
As intended, this album presents alto sax specialist Paul Desmond as never featured before, with the backing of a string orchestra. The record, filled with such beautiful jazz standards as "My Funny Valentine," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "Body and Soul," is very rich in texture, yet subtle and mellow overall in mood. It's unyielding purpose: to soothe the souls of its listeners. Desmond's style and tone shine with an alluring quality, and the record is filled with melodies that don't fail to stimulate the sophisticated jazz listener. Desmond's melodies are eloquently detailed and charmingly spun in the midst of the string orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Prince. The legendary Jim Hall is featured as guest guitarist, playing yet another scintillating role and using his classic comping style. Hall is perhaps the most highly respected of all jazz guitarists for his good taste and witty inventiveness. Desmond has always been most familiar to the jazz public for his sweeping scale passages and his seemingly effortless spontaneity during periods of improvisation, although here he is often featured in a more lyrical ballad style on such romantic tunes as "My Funny Valentine," "Late Lament," and "Then I'll Be Tired of You."
This album is a highly innovative and meticulously crafted work, reflecting the ongoing success of both Desmond and Hall within the 1960s and the cool jazz period. Both of these musicians spent time working with Dave Brubeck and later lent themselves to many of Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova projects. The arrangements are extraordinary throughout this collection, including the charming "Valentine," which begins with a fantastic Elizabethan flavor. The intro sets up the mood to carry Desmond into the first chorus, which then glides into a 20th century style. The tune "I Should Care" is "a shimmering debt to Ibert and one of the most imaginative blendings you will ever hear of strings, reeds, French horn and harp," according to the liner notes. The tone of the album: lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond. [This album was rereleased in 2002 on the Bluebird label with seven bonus tracks from the same sessions]
- Shawn Haney (All Music Guide)
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This album is a listening experience unlike any you have ever enjoyed. And enjoy it you will - it is rich, subtle, varied, exquisitely tasteful, and masterfully performed in a design which accomplishes an apparently irreconcilable aim : to soothe as well as stimulate the sophisticated listener. For this is marvelous mood music - music to relax to, to be carried away by in reverie - but it is also marvelous music to listen to intently, to probe for the depth of its beautifully spun melodies and the tapestry-like interplay of soloist and accompaniment. Surely you have heard the haunting, floating sound of Paul Desmond's saxophone before. He is, after all, the alto saxophonist of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and by now millions of people all over the world have seen as well as listened to him. He is also, of course, one of the greatest lyric improvisers to have emerged in jazz. But you have never heard him in such a setting : strings, woodwinds, harp and rhythm, complementing to perfection the seamingly effortless and soaring Desmond horn.
The orchestrations are the product of a close friendship and understanding between Paul and the arranger-conductor of his choice, Bob Prince; in fact, Paul postponed the recording of this debut album until Prince returned from Europe, where he recorded his two ballet scores written for Jerome Bobbins "N.Y Export: Op. Jazz" and "Events". Paul's selection of guitarist Jim Hall as co-soloist is equally felicitous. Among musicians, Hall is perhaps the most highly respected of all jazz guitarists for his unfailing good taste and the musicality of his inventiveness.
Listening in depth brings many rewards in this album. There are great solos; marvelous integration of solos and orchestration; delightful moments, such as duets between the two soloists (a device Paul much enjoys, and which inspired the trios in which Prince wrote parts for clarinet and oboe, leaving Paul to improvise against them).
Paul's lyric ballad style has seldom been heard to better advantage than on such flights as My Funny Valentine, his own Late Lament and Desmond Blue, III wind, Then I'll Be Tired Of You or I Should Care. Yet the arrangements are just as extraordinary, especially in the brilliant Valentine, which begins with a fantastic Elizabethan flavor, carries Paul into a courtly first chorus (accompanied principally by harp alone) and then glides into the twentieth century as Paul falls into one of the finest solos of his career. Or I Should Care, which is a shimmering debt of Ibert and one of the most imaginative blendings you will ever hear of strings, reeds, French horn and harp.
The mood of this album is, for the most part, reflective, thoughtful and soulful. All is not tenderness and delicacy, however, for Paul Desmond is also one of the best jazz saxophonists around. There are contrasting moments in the album, which do not, however, disturb its essential unity as a study in Desmond Blue.