Saturday, September 16, 2006
Not my photos. A week ago some guy was going on an on about John Coltrane, so I went to the library and got John Coltrane & Thelonious Monk at Carnegie Hall and Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall. I listened to John Coltrane & Thelonious Monk and of course Monk was very good and Coltrane did a respectable job but it seemed like Coltrane was just filling the slot, the saxophone man, it was Monk's show.
Then I listened to a recording which I have heard probably a thousand times "Blue Rondo a la Turk" Paul Desmond at Carnegie Hall February 21, 1963. I wore out two copies of this album in the early 60s before I got a tape deck. I am not a Paul Desmond fan really, but this solo is perfect, brilliant, flawless virtuosity ...
OK, it is absurd to compare Coltrane with Desmond. They didn't even play the same instrument. Desmond was a clarinet player who converted to alto sax and hated playing a tenor but did it early on to make money. Desmond played the alto as if it were a clarinet, spending most of his time very high up. He played a full octave above the altos designed range. Although he quoted frequently from Bird, Stan Getz ... his style was so distinctive that it didn't fit into any identifiable contemporary school.
I was a Brubeck fan and when Desmond was playing with Brubeck I liked what he did most of the time. His other work with Jim Hall and numerous others was good but not the same as his work with Brubeck. I had two of his Jim Hall collaborations Take Ten and Bosa Antigua. They were OK, but didn't listen to them much.