Paul Desmond – The Complete 1975 Toronto Recordings (#269 – 7 CDs)

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The Limited Edition Box set includes:

  •  Using a four-channel rig, bassist Don Thompson was able to capture the quartet with excellent clarity. He has now gone back to the original analog tapes to remix them for this set.
  • The acclaimed journalist Doug Ramsey was one of Desmond’s closest friends and his biographer. He provides an insightful essay into Paul Desmond, the person as well as the artist and notes for these amazing sessions.
  • The booklet will include photographs from Bernie Senensky and the late Ron Hudson from performances by the quartet at the Bourbon Street Jazz Club in Toronto and at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

With a rhythm section that suited his every need,
Paul Desmond delivered some of the best performances of his career.

Five Hours of Unreleased Material!

From 1950 to 1967, he was the famous alter ego to Dave Brubeck’s equally challenging but always robust piano inventions. The unprecedented success of the Brubeck quartet with 17 years of constant club dates, concerts and sound checks, accompanied by a succession of airports, cab rides, hotels and food-on-the run took its toll on the members of the group.

Desmond’s only professional activities outside the Brubeck orbit were several recorded encounters with Gerry Mulligan and the recording quartet that he led from 1959 to 1965 with guitarist Jim Hall and drummer Connie Kay on a succession of albums for Warner Bros. and RCA Victor. When the Brubeck quartet disbanded in 1967, Desmond began a phase of semi-retirement. He recorded a number of commercially-oriented albums for A & M and CTI, produced by Creed Taylor, between 1968 and ’74. The last album in this run was the aptly-named “Pure Desmond” with a quartet that included Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert, who was recommended to Paul by Jim Hall.

Desmond was accepting few live gigs during this period beyond reunion tours with Brubeck. He didn’t need the money and he was physically spent. But an offer to play the Bourbon Street Jazz Club with Bickert in March 1975 proved irresistible. Bassist Don Thompson and drummer Jerry Fuller completed the band. Desmond connected with this rhythm section immediately and a strong musical bond developed on the bandstand that yanked Desmond out of his doldrums.

He later wrote of “the giddy euphoria of playing a club again after years of concerts.” Of the inspirational sidemen on the date, he said, “Jerry [Fuller] is a charter member of a unique and endangered species – a drummer who is happiest while devoting his sensitive and intelligent playing to whatever is happening at the moment…Don [Thompson] is of course, a walking miracle…he writes charts like an angel…he plays the right changes…his solos are dependably unbelievable. Ed Bickert is unique. Chords, for instance…when I work with Ed, I find myself turning around several times a night to count the strings on his guitar.”

Thankfully, Don Thompson had the presence of mind to start recording the band at the club on his quarter-track tape recorder. Desmond was energized and the quartet became a strong unit with its own personality in no time at all. A week in March and two weeks in October yielded enough exceptional music that producer John Snyder compiled a stunning double album for A & M Horizon entitled “The Paul Desmond Quartet Live.”

These recordings are an embarrassment of riches. With a rhythm section that suited his every need, a renewed Paul Desmond delivered some of the best performances of his career. The repertoire consisted of standards, Brazilian songs, jazz classics and originals that the alto saxophonist loved to play throughout his career, challenging himself to breathe new life into material in his comfort zone.

Speaking of comfort zone, Desmond has recorded without a chordal instrument only three times in his career – on his 1953 Fantasy session with Don Elliott and on two collaborations with Gerry Mulligan in 1957 and 1962. On the last two nights of the Toronto sessions, Ed Bickert was called away due to the death of his father. Valve trombonist Rob McConnell was brought in to complete the quartet. The results of those nights are heard here on the fourth disc of the set. They are a revelation with Desmond playing more independently and taking chances that he might not have with chordal accompaniment.

More albums were planned, but they never saw the light of day. Now Mosaic has gathered all of the material approved by Desmond and the group (three hours of released material and five hours of unreleased material) into a 7-CD boxed set of The Complete Paul Desmond Toronto Sessions. Don Thompson has returned to his original analog tapes and mixed them anew for maximum fidelity.

Audio Clips & Session Notes

Audrey
March 26, 1975

“Audrey” was the first track on Brubeck Time, the Brubeck quartet’s initial album for Columbia Records in 1954. The session was photographed by Gjon Mili, famous for his work in LIFE magazine. In his notes for the album, Brubeck recalled that the producer, George Avakian, asked for a quiet minor blues.

“I would like,” said Gjon, closing his eyes and raising his hand expressively, “I would like to see Audrey Hepburn come walking through the woods—“.

“Gee”, said Paul wistfully, So would I.” ‘One,’ I said, noticing the glazed expression about Paul’s eyes,’ two, three, four.’ And we played it.’

Desmond’s unrequited love for Ms. Hepburn led him to check his watch frequently when he and Brubeck were playing at Basin Street in New York. She was starring in Ondine at a nearby theater. He knew when she would walk out the stage door and step into her waiting limousine. He wanted to be there to see her. I knew the story and once asked Paul what he said to her.

Surprised, he answered, “Nothing. Are you kidding?” After Audrey died, and long after Paul was gone, her husband, Andrea Dotti, disclosed that his wife “listened to “Audrey” every night before she went to bed, “and if she was walking through the garden, she’d listen to it on earphones.” – Doug Ramsey

Paul Desmond was an artist who stood alone on the alto saxophone. His tone was light, but full. His improvisations were complex but always lyrical and direct. If Johnny Hodges was the seducer on alto, Desmond was the cool intellect always willing to engage all of your senses.

Paul Desmond
The Complete 1975 Toronto Recordings (7 CDs)

Disc One:
1. Too Marvelous For Words (C) 7.57
(R. Whiting-J. Mercer)
2. Line For Lyons (A) 8.57
(Gerry Mulligan)
3. Emily (A) 9.30
(J. Mandel-J.Mercer)
4. It Could Happen To You (B) 7.35
(J. Burke-J. Van Heusen)
5. Just Squeeze Me (C) 9:00
(Duke Ellington)
6. I Wish I Knew (A) 8:23
(H. Warren-M. Gordon)
7. I Should Care (C) 8.46
(Cahn-Stordahl-Weston)
8. Audrey (B) 8.31
(P. Desmond-D. Brubeck)

Disc Two
1. Just Squeeze Me (D) 8.32
(Duke Ellington)
2. Meditation (D) 11:18
(Antonio Carlos Jobim)
3. Tangerine (D) 9.37
(V. Schertzinger-J. Mercer)
4. Darn That Dream (C) 12:22
(J. Van Heusen-E. De Lange)
5. Nuages (D) 10.33
(Django Reinhardt)
6. Like Someone In Love (D) 9.51
(J. Van Heusen-J. Burke)
7. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (D) 10.56
(Mercer Ellington)

Disc Three:
1. Line For Lyons (F) 7.42
(Gerry Mulligan)
2. Wendy (E) 11.23
(Paul Desmond)
3. Too Marvelous For Words (F) 7:00
(R. Whiting-J. Mercer)
4. When Sunny Gets Blue (F) 11.51
(M. Fisher-J. Segal)
5. Audrey (F) 9.39
(P. Desmond-D. Brubeck)
6. Darn That Dream (F) 10.57
(J. Van Heusen-E. De Lange)
7. Take Five (E) 7:05
(Paul Desmond)

Disc Four:
1. Tangerine (F) 7:46
(V. Schertzinger-J. Mercer)
2. Wave (C) 12:49
(Antonio Carlos Jobim)
3. It Could Happen To You (C) 9:48
(J. Burke-J. Van Heusen)
4. Emily (E) 8:47
(J. Mandel-J.Mercer)
5. Line For Lyons (E) 8.21
(Gerry Mulligan)
6. When Sunny Getz Blue (E) 12:38
(M. Fisher-J. Segal)
7. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (E) 10:00
(Mercer Ellington)

Disc Five:
1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (A) 10.37
(Cole Porter)
2. Just Squeeze Me (E) 9:48
(Duke Ellington)
3. All The Things You Are (B) 8:59
(J. Kern-O. Hammerstein)
4. Autumn Leaves (B) 8:48
(J. Kosma-J. Mercer)5
5. Wave (B) 10:17
(Antonio Carlos Jobim)
6. Nuages (B) 9:04
(Django Reinhardt)
7. East Of The Sun (C) 6:16
(Brooks Bowman)
[note: CD and set booklets mistakenly list “I’ve Got You Under My Skin as track 5]

Disc Six:
1. Let’s Get Away From It All (G) 11.49
(M. Dennis-T. Adair)
2. Line For Lyons (G) 12.19
(Gerry Mulligan)
3. Just Squeeze Me (G) 11.17
(Duke Ellington)
4. My Funny Valentine (H) 8.38
(R. Rodgers-L. Hart)
5. Mean To Me (H) 12.28
(F. Ahlert-R. Turk)
6. Wendy (G) 11:50
(Paul Desmond)
7. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (G) 9.39
(Mercer Ellington)

Disc Seven:
1. Wendy (I) 7:18
(Paul Desmond)
2. Wave (I) 11:24
(Antonio Carlos Jobim)
3. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (I) 8:59
(Mercer Ellington)
4. Nancy (I) 9:37
(J. Van Heusen-P Silvers)
5. Manha De Carnaval (I) 9:26
(Luiz Bonfa)
6. Here’s That Rainy Day (I) 7:19
(J. Van Heusen-J. Burke)
7. My Funny Valentine (I) 10:32
(R. Rodgers-L. Hart)
8. Take Five (I) 7:13
(Paul Desmond)

 

DISCOGRAPHY
(A) Paul Desmond, alto sax; Ed Bickert, guitar; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, March 25, 1975

Line For Lyons previously unissued
Emily previously unissued
I Wish I Knew previously unissued
I’ve Got You Under My Skin previously unissued

(B) Same personnel.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, March 26, 1975

Autumn Leaves previously unissued
It Could Happen To You previously unissued
Audrey previously unissued
Wave previously unissued
Nuages previously unissued
All The Things You Are previously unissued

(C) Same personnel.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, March 28, 1975

Just Squeeze Me previously unissued
Too Marvelous For Words previously unissued
I Should Care previously unissued
It Could Happen To You previously unissued
Darn That Dream previously unissued
Wave previously unissued
East Of The Sun previously unissued

(D) Same personnel.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, March 29, 1975

Just Squeeze Me Telarc CD-83319
Nuages Telarc CD-83319
Tangerine Telarc CD-83319
Meditation Telarc CD-83319
Like Someone In Love Telarc CD-83319
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be Telarc CD-83319

(E) Paul Desmond, alto sax; Ed Bickert, guitar; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 25-26, 1975

Line For Lyons previously unissued
Wendy previously unissued
Take Five previously unissued
Emily previously unissued
When Sunny Gets Blue previously unissued
Just Squeeze Me previously unissued
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be previously unissued

(F) Same personnel.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 27-29, 1975

Too Marvelous For Words Artist House LP-AH2
Line For Lyons Artist House LP-AH2, Verve CD 543 501-2
Tangerine previously unissued
Darn That Dream Artist House LP-AH2
When Sunny Gets Blue Artist House LP-AH2
Audrey Artist House LP-AH2

(G) Paul Desmond, alto sax; Rob McConnell, valve trombone; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 30, 1975

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be previously unissued
Let’s Get Away From It All previously unissued
Wendy previously unissued
Line For Lyons previously unissued
Just Squeeze Me previously unissued

(H) Same personnel.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 31, 1975
My Funny Valentine previously unissued
Mean To Me previously unissued

Note: A version of “Someday My Prince Will Come” was intended to be included in a proposed CD of this material. It was later rejected in favor of included version of “Wendy.”

(I)Paul Desmond, alto sax; Ed Bickert, guitar; Don Thompson, bass; Jerry Fuller, drums.
Bourbon Street, Toronto, October 27-29, 1975

Wendy A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Wave A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Nancy A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Manha De Carnaval A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Here’s That Rainy Day A & M Horizon LP-SP850
My Funny Valentine A & M Horizon LP-SP850
Take Five A & M Horizon LP-SP850

All titles issued on Verve CD 543 501-2.

Album Index:
LP
The Paul Desmond Quartet Live A & M Horizon SP850 (double album)
Paul Desmond Artist House AH2
CD
Paul Desmond Quartet – Like Someone In Love Telarc CD-83319
The Paul Desmond Quartet Live Verve CD 543 501-2.

Produced for release by Don Thompson, Chad Irschich and Michael Cuscuna
Original sessions produced and recorded by Don Thompson
Executive producer: John Snyder
Disc 1 – 6 remixed by Chad Irschich, Inception Sound, Toronto in 2019 from the original analog 4-track tapes
Disc 7 remixed by Gary Gray, Manta Studio, Toronto in 1975 from the original analog 4-track tapes.
Mastered by Chad Irschich

Special thanks to Noel Silverman, John Snyder, and Barry Hatcher without whom this release would not have been possible.

Design Production: InkWell, Inc.

©2019 Mosaic Records, LLC.

Printed in the U.S.A.

Tracks 1-3 and 5-7 on disc two (p) 1992 Telarc International Corp and appear by arrangement with Concord Music.

Discs 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and track 4 on disc 2 are (p) 2019 Estate Of Paul Desmond (dba Desmond Music Company).

Disc 7: A Verve Label Group release ℗1976 UMG Recordings, Inc. ©2019 Mosaic Records, LLC. Manufactured by Universal Music Enterprises, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc. B0031354-02