THE COMPLETE RCA VICTOR RECORDINGS includes the five solo albums Desmond released on RCA's Bluebird imprint in the early 1960s: DESMOND BLUE, TAKE TEN, GLAD TO BE UNHAPPY, BOSSA ANTIGUA and EASY LIVING. Between 1962 and 1964 Paul Desmond , Dave Brubeck's alto saxophonist (and composer of "Take Five"), recorded five remarkable albums for RCA with guitarist Jim Hall. (Listeners might recall that the inimitable Hall also recorded with Sonny Rollins for RCA during the same period.) Luckily, RCA has seen fit to reissue the Desmond-Hall sessions in an attractive 5-CD box. Of these, only the first session, DESMOND BLUE, was arranged for strings. Otherwise it's just Desmond and Hall, a few good bass players and the great MJQ drummer Connie Kay, whom Desmond long revered for his subtle touch.
This 1987 date teams the iconoclastic pianist with guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Paul Motian, and British saxophonist John Surman. While it's easy to argue that, with Manfred Eicher's icy, crystalline production, this was a stock date for both the artists and the label, that argument would be flat wrong. Bley was looking for a new lyricism in his own playing and in his compositions. He was coming from a different place than the large harmonies offered by augmented and suspended chords and writing for piano trios. The other band members – two other extremely lyrical improvisers in Surman and Frisell.
Take Five: The Best Of Cool Saxophone of Paul Desmond (Paul Emil Breitenfeld) is the story of a jazz artist who transcended genres to establish one of the most immediately recognizable sounds in all of music. Desmond is simply delightful, he’s so lyrical and his lines are so imaginative.