Paul Desmond – Desmond Blue

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Desmond Blue

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  • Paul Desmond’s phenomenal 1962 release finally arrives on the site, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is vintage Sixties Living Stereo at its best – big, rich and Tubey Magical like you will not believe
  • A “highly innovative and meticulously crafted work,” this collection is brimming with delightful jazz classics, including “My Funny Valentine,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Body and Soul”
  • 4 stars: “… lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These original Living Stereo pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

No recordings will ever be made that sound like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is, of course, a CD of this album, quite a few of them I would guess, but those of us with a good turntable couldn’t care less.

This original stereo pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records barely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in Webster Hall in New York City, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage Analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Desmond Blue from 1962 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the hall

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

Hi-Fidelity

What do we love about these Living Stereo Hot Stamper pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The instruments here are reproduced with remarkable fidelity. Now that’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi”, not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. There’s no added digital reverb (Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, et al.). The microphones are not fifty feet away from the musicians (Water Lily) nor are they inches away (Three Blind Mice).

This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this one up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.

What We’re Listening For on Desmond Blue

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

My Funny Valentine
Desmond Blue
Then I’ll Be Tired Of You 
I’ve Got You Under My Skin  
Late Lament

Side Two

I Should Care  
Like Someone In Love  
Ill Wind
Body And Soul

AMG 4 Star Review

As intended, this album presents alto sax specialist Paul Desmond as never featured before, with the backing of a string orchestra…It’s unyielding purpose: to soothe the souls of its listeners. Desmond’s style and tone shine with an alluring quality, and the record is filled with melodies that don’t fail to stimulate the sophisticated jazz listener. Desmond’s melodies are eloquently detailed and charmingly spun in the midst of the string orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Prince.

The legendary Jim Hall is featured as guest guitarist, playing yet another scintillating role and using his classic comping style. Hall is perhaps the most highly respected of all jazz guitarists for his good taste and witty inventiveness. Desmond has always been most familiar to the jazz public for his sweeping scale passages and his seemingly effortless spontaneity during periods of improvisation, although here he is often featured in a more lyrical ballad style on such romantic tunes as “My Funny Valentine,” “Late Lament,” and “Then I’ll Be Tired of You.”

This album is a highly innovative and meticulously crafted work, reflecting the ongoing success of both Desmond and Hall within the 1960s and the cool jazz period. Both of these musicians spent time working with Dave Brubeck and later lent themselves to many of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova projects. The arrangements are extraordinary throughout this collection, including the charming “Valentine,” which begins with a fantastic Elizabethan flavor. The intro sets up the mood to carry Desmond into the first chorus, which then glides into a 20th century style. The tune “I Should Care” is “a shimmering debt to Ibert and one of the most imaginative blendings you will ever hear of strings, reeds, French horn and harp,” according to the liner notes.

The tone of the album: lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.