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The Sound of a Dry Martini - Remembering Paul Desmond

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Album Review

Educator, clinician, and A-one alto sax player, Brent Jensen honors one of the most self-effacing musicians in the history of jazz, Paul Desmond. The title comes from Desmond's ambition to "sound like a dry martini," probably very light on the vermouth. There are many "Desmond-isms" that he liked to use to describe his work. On the secret to his unique tone, he said "I honestly don't know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally." Desmond admired Charlie Parker's playing, as well as the new paths he blazed. But he was determined to do his own thing. The result was a style and tone that were light, fluid, subtlety swinging, and expressive. This sense of artistry is captured by Jensen as he plays a set of tunes that Desmond either played as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, such as "Tangerine" and "Alice in Wonderland," or played in other settings, such as "Out of Nowhere." A couple of Desmond originals are on the program, including "Take Five," which has become a jazz staple. Playing Jim Hall to Jensen's Desmond is guitarist Jamie Findlay, recalling those classic albums they made together between 1959 and 1965. Recordings that Desmond made in Toronto with Ed Bickert during the 1974-1975 time period will also be remembered as these two work through the play list. Joining the two main players are the restrained, but contributing, bass and drums of Zac Matthews and Dean Koba, respectively. Matthews gets in a nice solo on "Black Orpheus." Dedication to Desmond notwithstanding, Jensen's playing stands on its own feet. That he prefers to play in the manner of Paul Desmond is a credit to his taste and his respect for the melodies that come from his horn. Easily recommended.

The Sound of a Dry Martini - Remembering Paul Desmond, Brent Jensen
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