Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish listening to one of the greatest and certainly one of the smoothest sax players ever – the fantastic Paul Desmond. Mr. Desmond, of course, was a key member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and was just as responsible as anyone in that great group for that unique sound Brubeck’s quartet had. Desmond’s tone is impossible to mistake – instantly recognizable and unmistakable. In the late 60s he joined A&M who, at that time, were making the best albums anywhere. For me, they could do not much wrong. So we had all those great Wes Montgomery albums that Don Sebesky arranged and orchestrated – and he did the same for several other jazz artists, including Desmond. And I just love the Desmond albums almost as much as the Montgomery albums. Now playing is probably my favorite of his A&M output, Bridge Over Troubled Water, wherein Desmond and Sebesky do Simon and Garfunkel. It’s just magical – full orchestra, that beautiful Desmond tone and playing, and great charts by Sebesky. It also happens to be a perfectly produced, engineered, and mixed album. And of course it’s been sitting on a shelf along with the other Desmond albums for twenty years, but yesterday I brought about forty CDs in, including the A&M Desmonds. What an ear treat they are. Highly recommended by the likes of me – you can hear samples on Amazon and you should.
I also listened to Bill Evans’ follow-up album to Conversations with Myself – Further Conversations with Myself. It’s not quite the masterpiece that the original album is, but it’s still pretty great. In this sequel, he only overdubs once, so it’s a duet rather than a three-piano album. The best track is the opener, Emily. But it’s all great because Mr. Evans was the greatest. I also heard what must have been a very adventurous album back in its day, which was 1956 on Columbia, who were indeed very adventurous. The album was and is called Music for Brass and features pieces by Gunther Schuller, J.J. Johnson, John Lewis (of The Modern Jazz Quartet), and Jimmy Guiffre. The Schuller is a little noisy and out there, but I liked it and the Lewis piece is fantastic. It’s become a rare CD. One little delight I found was a Ferrante and Teicher album, one that just preceded their breakthrough number one hit, Exodus and their move to United Artists Records. It’s an album of show tunes in great stereo, originally on ABC Paramount Records. I had it when I was a new teen and loved it – the most current show on it, which had just opened, was Bye Bye Birdie, and most of the stuff is from the 1959 season, including Take Me Along, Once Upon a Mattress, Gypsy, and we get The Music Man and The Sound of Music, too. What I like about it is its simplicity – it’s just the two pianos and rhythm – in fact, it sounds rather like an off-Broadway revue album, so right up my alley. What’s not up my alley is the packaging from MCA. I guess it was a budget release when it came out (seems to bring high prices now), but is there really any excuse for a) changing the title of the original album, and having a four-page booklet with no text other than a list of the tracks, which also appears on the tray card. But worse, is there any excuse to not credit, I don’t know, call me crazy, the WRITERS of the songs? I mean, how did they get away with that, not to mention crediting the shows from whence the songs came. Shoddy, baby, shoddy.
Other than all that lovely music, I had a rather uneventful day of few events. I got up at six-thirty after three hours of sleep, fell back asleep at seven-thirty and slept until twelve-thirty, so eight hours total. Once up again, I did the usual morning stuff even though it wasn’t morning. At around two I went and picked up a package and no mail, then decided I absolutely had to eat something that was actually edible and good, so I stopped at Islands and had my bacon cheeseburger and fries – a LOT of fries – and it was fresh and good as it always is. Then I came home, went to the garage in search of CDs, had some telephonic calls and uploaded stuff into iTunes.
Oh, yeah, I had to buy a new telephone set-up because mine, which was seven years old or more would not hold charges even when the batteries were replaced. And my goodness phones are so inexpensive now. I got a main base and one extra, got it all hooked up and it’s still getting fully charged but it sounds much better and has lots more features. Then I sat on my couch like so much fish.
Last night, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Intruder in the Dust, based on the William Faulkner novel. I personally have never read a William Faulkner novel and I’m jiggy with that. This was a film pretty ahead of its time, pretty hard-hitting, and definitely looking forward to To Kill a Mockingbird. Its language is tough, it’s filmed very starkly, has no music except at the beginning and end, and runs only eighty-seven minutes. Young Claude Jarman, Jr. is very good (he did The Yearling with this same director, Clarence Brown), and also especially terrific are Porter Hall, Elizabeth Patterson, and Will Geer. But the film belongs to actor Juano Hernandez as a wrongly accused Black man. I just love his performances – he has such dignity and he’s so subtle and powerful – and he’s one of the main reasons I wanted to reissue Lenox Avenue, his brilliant narration. The film has one, for me, large flaw and caveat, and that is the performance of David Brian. I used to like Mr. Brian when I was a kid, in his show Mr. District Attorney. But here he is completely one-note and off-putting playing a character who should have shadings and subtlety so we can see him have a little character journey – but all we get is gruff, gruff, and more gruff. It’s not quite fatal but it sure doesn’t help. I just kept wanting to slap him silly. But maybe that’s what his director wanted. It doesn’t work. The Warner Archive DVD is fine.
Then I relaxed and listened to music, with From the Hot Afternoon, another Desmond/Sebesky album, now playing and making me very happy.
Today I must do a show order, write commentary, eat, and upload and listen to more music, as well as watch something. I even think there may be a package to pick up.
Tomorrow is our first Kritzerland rehearsal, which I’m looking forward to, then I have a meeting on Tuesday for the Sherman event, then we have our second rehearsal on Friday, our stumble-through on Saturday, and sound check and show on Sunday.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do a show order, write commentary, eat, listen, watch, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, always happy to hear the sweet sax appeal of Paul Desmond.