Paul Desmond – Pure Desmond

More Paul Desmond

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  • Paul Demond’s superb 1975 release makes its Hot Stamper Debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Huge amounts of three-dimensional ambience, along with boatloads of Tubey Magic
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • 4 stars: ” Paul Desmond reverted back to the relaxed quartet format that suited him well in the past… [this album] sparked a Desmond renaissance where he regained a good deal of the witty spark and erudite cool of his collaborations with Hall…

CTI is better known for the funky grooves of artists like Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter and Deodato, but this album features mature adult jazz from Dave Brubeck’s former sideman, Paul Desmond.

It’s a lovely album, but if your pressing doesn’t have all the magic we could forgive you for not giving the music the credit it deserves. Unless your copy has a lot of energy and good amounts of richness and fullness, you probably wouldn’t give the music a second thought.

When you hear a copy like this, it’s an entirely different story. Fans of Contemporary label jazz are sure to get a lot out of this one.

This vintage CTI pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all 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 Amazing Sides Such as These 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 1975
  • 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 studio space

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 qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Pure Desmond

  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Squeeze Me
I’m Old Fashioned
Nuages
Why Shouldn’t I

Side Two

Everything I Love
Warm Valley
Till The Clouds Roll By
Mean To Me

AMG 4 Star Review

With the Skylark “experiment” behind him, Paul Desmond reverted back to the relaxed quartet format that suited him well in the past. The reason? Through Jim Hall, he found a little-known, splendid guitarist in Toronto named Ed Bickert who became his new gigmate in 1974, and this album was meant to show his discovery off. In fact, it sparked a Desmond renaissance where he regained a good deal of the witty spark and erudite cool of his collaborations with Hall, no matter how unfashionable it was to play this way in 1974.

Bickert is an even more reticent player than Hall, softer in touch and temperament, but eminently musical, enough to fire up Desmond’s creativity. Old Desmond hand Connie Kay lends sympathy and comfort on drums, and Ron Carter is on bass. “Just Squeeze Me,” “Everything I Love,” and “Til the Clouds Roll By” are the best examples of the empathy at work here but any track will do.