Paul Desmond…”The Sound of the Dry Martini”
Paul Desmond (November 25, 1924 – May 30, 1977) was a jazz saxophonist and composer. He came to prominence with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which lasted from 1951 until 1967. Desmond was the definitive “cool” alto saxophonist, with a style that slightly bore some resemblance to that of Stan Getz, except Desmond liked to milk the high notes more. He indulged in counter-melodies with Brubeck (who played piano) and played witty, yet logical solos that really drove the Brubeck quartet. He rarely played solos in double-time, preferring a cool, laid-back setting, but his solos contained surprising twists. He is probably best known for his classic solo on his composition “Take Five.”
Paul Desmond Quotes:
- I could only write at the beach, and I kept getting sand in my typewriter.
- His reason for not pursuing a literary career
- I hate the way he writes. I kind of love the way he lives, though.
- On writer Jack Kerouac
- I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness.
- I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to sound like a dry martini.
- About his distinctive light sound
- I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast.
- About the value of practice
- I was unfashionable before anyone knew who I was.
- About his playing style
- It’s like living in a house where everything’s painted red.
- On Ornette Coleman’s playing
- Not for me. If I want to tune everybody out, I just take off my glasses and enjoy the haze.
- On contact lenses
- Sometimes I get the feeling that there are orgies going on all over New York City, and somebody says, `Let’s call Desmond,’ and somebody else says,’Why bother? He’s probably home reading the Encyclopedia Britannica.’
- Well, that I’m not playing better.
- When asked by Gene Lees what accounted for the melancholy in his playing
- Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.