Paul Desmond (1924–1977)

Born:

25th November 1924 in San Francisco, California, USA.

Died:

30th May 1977 in New York, New York, USA.

Buried:

He was cremated. There is no grave.

A famous piece:
Some great albums:
  • Time Out (1959), Time Further Out (1961) and At Carnegie Hall (1963) with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
  • Easy Living (1963–1965).
  • Like Someone in Love (1975).
Some interesting facts:
  • He is most well-known for performing with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
  • He should also be well-known for writing ‘Take Five’. This piece was not written by Dave Brubeck. It was written by Paul Desmond.
  • He played the saxophone.
  • His style was ‘cool jazz’. [Cool jazz is ‘cool’—it sounds a bit laid-back.]
  • Unlike other saxophone players of the time, such as John Coltrane, his playing is often slow and quiet.
  • When Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck first worked together, it was Paul Desmond who hired Dave Brubeck—not the other way round. Not only that, but Paul Desmond fired Dave Brubeck not long afterwards!
  • After this, Dave Brubeck didn’t want to see Paul Desmond again. Eventually Paul Desmond went begging to Dave Brubeck to let him join Dave Brubeck’s trio. Dave Brubeck only agreed if Paul Desmond would babysit his children!!
  • Paul Desmond left the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1967, although he did play with Dave Brubeck again.
  • Paul Desmond also formed his own quartet after 1967.
Memorial Website

Here is a video of Paul Desmond performing Take Five with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet playing ‘Take Five’

And here is Paul Desmond playing ‘Emily’ (this song was written by Jonny Mandell).

Paul Desmond playing ‘Emily’.

Picture credits:
  1. Paul Desmond on the saxophone (with Dave Brubeck in front). This photograph was taken by Carl Van Vechten on 8th October 1954. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
Video credits:
  1. The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five (1961). The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five (1961)
    Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Gene Wright.
  2. Paul Desmond plays “Emily” – In 2009 he would have been 85. Paul Desmond – November 25, 1924 – 1977. Alto Saxophonist. Born Paul Emil Breitenfeld. Musical genius. Composer of the jazz classic “Take Five”. The song is the waltz “Emily” by Johnny Mandell (from the film “The Americanisation of Emily) performed at the Monterey Jazz festival in 1975. There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.

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