Paul Desmond's "Summertime"

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Captain Bacardi

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I just picked up a promo copy of Paul Desmond's Summertime album (SP 3015), and I was pretty much blown away with this record. I think Verve goofed by issuing From The Hot Afternoon instead of this record. The rhythm section is pretty solid here, and Desmond swings his rear end off. Even the orchestra doesn't get in the way, as is usual on the A&M/CTI stuff. "North By Northeast" is a really cool tune.

Interesting that the liner notes say that this was his first record since leaving the Dave Brubeck Quartet a year before.


Capt. Bacardi
...diggin' the new board online...
 

Captain Bacardi

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Ooops! My goof. I should've posted this in the new jazz thread. I'll get it right eventually. :wink:


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jimac51

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Cap'n-"Summertime" is a fine album and your argument holds water. Still,I would have always given the nod to "In the Hot Afternoon" as a better album and was pleased to see its availability,especially with added tracks in its 2000 release. However,my feelings are not those held by critics in general and rarely do my wishes happen in the land of reissuing,so go figure. I suspect the bossa nova theme and the Nascimento material could have been reasons why "Hot Afternoon"got the nod,possibly reaching a "world music" market outside of jazz. I would have thought sales for both first time around would have been pretty equal or "Summertime" a bit bigger. BTW-Paul's reading of "Someday My Prince Will Come" on "Summertime" is still the best,even surpassing Bill Evans' popular reading of this ballad at Montreaux. I love the way Paul waits to get to the main theme and Don Sebesky has a little nod to then-current Disney TV show theme hidden in the brass section-the star and the arranger don't butt heads. Having said all of that, the Paul Simon-tribute album,"Bridge Over Troubled Water" is right up there with the other two-possibly the "best of show" of the three. That awaits another post-Mac
 

Rudy

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Captain Bacardi said:
I just picked up a promo copy of Paul Desmond's Summertime album (SP 3015), and I was pretty much blown away with this record. I think Verve goofed by issuing From The Hot Afternoon instead of this record.

I prefer Hot Afternoon mainly for the Brazilian connection, but I haven't listened to Summertime or Bridge Over Troubled Water in many years. This was either the 2nd or 3rd time Hot Afternoon made it to CD (I have both domestic CDs...the Verve definitely sounds better). Summertime was, I think, available as an import, but not sure about Bridge. My mother played all of these around the house, for many years.

Captain Bacardi said:
Interesting that the liner notes say that this was his first record since leaving the Dave Brubeck Quartet a year before.

Interesting. I'd thought he recorded for RCA prior to A&M. Or was RCA (such as Desmond Blue) something he did alongside his DBQ duties? I thought the DBQ had flamed out a few years prior to A&M/CTi.

-= N =-
 

Captain Bacardi

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Interesting. I'd thought he recorded for RCA prior to A&M. Or was RCA (such as Desmond Blue) something he did alongside his DBQ duties? I thought the DBQ had flamed out a few years prior to A&M/CTi.

-= N =-

I only have one RCA Desmond recording (Pure Gold Jazz, which is a reissue of Desmond Blue) and it has a '78 copyright date. I guess I should pull out Bridge Over Troubled Water, since I haven't listened to it in quite some time.


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Captain Bacardi

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jimac51 said:
Cap'n-"Summertime" is a fine album and your argument holds water. BTW-Paul's reading of "Someday My Prince Will Come" on "Summertime" is still the best,even surpassing Bill Evans' popular reading of this ballad at Montreaux.

I agree! Both versions are great. I guess I enjoy Summertime more because it's more of a straight-ahead feel, as opposed to the more Brazilian feel of Hot Afternoon. Maybe the addition of the alternate takes of HA took something away for me.


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jimac51

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Cap'n,then to Neil(sorry about the A&M pun)-"Summertime" was indeed the first album that Paul recorded since he had left Brubeck. The RCA albums were all recorded during his tenure with Dave,with the stipulation that he not record any DBQ tunes and not use a piano in the recordings. Hence,"Take Five" was never done during the RCA years and Paul was kind of forced to strike up a relationship with guitarist Jim Hall. Though some critics disagree,I feel that Desmond was the magic of the Brubeck group and that the few Desmond/Hall recordings are better than most of the Brubeck recorded output. I just wish I knew about Mosaic when they put together a limited edition complete Desmond/Hall box,including most of Paul's RCA stuff and recordings made for Warner Bros. The non-limited complete RCA box is a pretty good second prize. Mac
 

Rudy

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Captain Bacardi said:
I agree! Both versions are great. I guess I enjoy Summertime more because it's more of a straight-ahead feel, as opposed to the more Brazilian feel of Hot Afternoon. Maybe the addition of the alternate takes of HA took something away for me.

That could be. I usually turn the Verve CD off after the last album track. The original CD from the 80's (digipak, gatefold, I actually prefer the packaging since it's similar to the original LP) has no bonus tracks, but also has the worse sound. (Typical noisy LP masters, on top of the muddy engineering.)

I don't have a good LP copy of Summertime (I have Mom's, but it has some wear due to being played on a Magnavox console all those years), so I may hunt around for a better LP or, if not too expensive, the import CD.

-= N =-
 

Rudy

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jimac51 said:
Having said all of that, the Paul Simon-tribute album,"Bridge Over Troubled Water" is right up there with the other two-possibly the "best of show" of the three. That awaits another post-Mac

I'd say that out of all of them, I remember my mother playing Bridge the most of the three albums...she liked the "cool" arrangement of "El Condor Pasa". I'll admit that after a dozen or so years, I wasn't as familiar with the other two as I was with this one when I rediscovered them.

-= N =-
 

jimac51

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Just for everyone's information,"Bridge" was originally rated five stars by Leonard Feather in the 12/24/70 issue of "Downbeat". An A&M ad from that era quotes Leonard:"It's a perfect collaboration between the two Pauls. Simon to write the songs and Desmond to play them." Kind of high praise for the magazine in general and Feather in particular-they usually didn't shine up to many Creed Taylor/Don Sebesky productions like this one. Our local vinyl show two weeks ago had a clean(er)copy of my current one for a reasonable three bucks(now I have three-my original one is just a curio piece nowadays) but still wish this and "Summertime" were available on domestic CD. My favorite alto sax player and one of the funniest music interviews ever-his sense of humor was as dry as his playing. Mac,wondering forever just how many players are in a quartet-
 

Rudy

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If I recall, didn't the liner notes for one of the albums say something to the effect of: "I had the vague idea I wanted to sound like a dry martini."

I have a bio ot Brubeck that was interesting. Seems that Desmond was a little bit eccentric. Like how he disappeared from an earlier Brubeck group, for whatever reason, then without explanation reappeared and rejoined the group for their most successful run. Also recall mention of how Desmond did not like drummers, but fortunately found Joe Morello one of the few drummers he didn't mind playing with. And how he'd sit out on songs that he just didn't like. (Wonder if that explains why he sits out for all but one track on the second side of Time Further Out.)

I do recall a tale of Desmond's driving technique. He and Brubeck were late for a gig, and were driving down a road that Paul knew was timed for 45 miles per hour. By his calculations, he could go twice as fast on the same road and hit all the same lights...and he and a rather frazzled Brubeck made the gig on time. (Or so the legend goes.)

Interesting fellow!

-= N =-
 

Captain Bacardi

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jimac51 said:
Just for everyone's information,"Bridge" was originally rated five stars by Leonard Feather in the 12/24/70 issue of "Downbeat". An A&M ad from that era quotes Leonard:"It's a perfect collaboration between the two Pauls. Simon to write the songs and Desmond to play them." Kind of high praise for the magazine in general and Feather in particular-they usually didn't shine up to many Creed Taylor/Don Sebesky productions like this one.

As I recall, both Feather and Down Beat didn't care for anything that A&M put out, until the Horizon series was released. I remember one review (I think it was the Nat Adderely LP) that pretty much said that A&M's jazz output should stick with that guy named Herb Somebody. Nothing like damning with faint praise. :rolleyes:


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Rudy

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It depends on the album, but in some cases, there are a few of the A&M/CTi's that are so laden with Creed Taylor's overproduction that I hardly play them. I'm more the type who thinks "simpler is better." I do like Hot Afternoon by Desmond, but I think the album really would have shined if there had been more of a latter-day Brasil '66 ("Casa Forte", etc.) backing to it, vs. having any type of instrumental accompaniment.

The bonus tracks on Hot Afternoon were an attempt to show that it was a good small combo sound, but with all the gaps in the track (basically color-by-numbers, "add orchestrals here" vacancies), it's not at all pleasant to listen to.

One bonus track I actually like and, in fact, the only track I like on the entire album, is "Tema Jazz" from Jobim's Tide album. The bonus track is unedited, and is presented in its full length. Nice.

-= N =-
 

William

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I can't believe I missed this thread. :shock:

Desmond is my favorite alto saxophonist, my favorite jazz musician, and in many respects a personal hero to me. So forgive me if I rave too much. :D

That said, Hot Afternoon is my least favorite of Desmond's A&M albums. There wasn't really much bossa nova in it at all, IMHO--more "world music" of the Nascimento variety, which isn't my bag at all. Very little of the Jobim-esque sophistication and elegance which distinguished earlier efforts like Bossa Antigua. As a result, Afternoon is one of the only times in Desmond's career that I think he sounded mis-matched with the material he was playing.

Summertime is another story altogether. Mostly straightahead, but the two bossa nova-styled numbers on that disc ("Samba With Some Barbecue" and "Autumn Leaves") are an absolute delight. If Hot Afternoon had sounded like those two tracks, I'd like it a lot better! I can't really complain about anything on Summertime. I enjoy the eclectic sound of the album, with a bit of Brazil mixed in with the straight jazz, movie music, Broadway songs, etc. Beautifully produced and beautifully played.

Both Summertime and Bridge are available as Japanese imports, POCM-5066 and POCM-5067 respectively. (Count me among those who regard the latter as a five-star masterpiece, "best of show" and possibly even "best of career" and "best of genre," BTW.) Import dealers generally sell them in the $20 range. They're worth every penny, if you ask me--I bought them "sound unheard," so to speak, and I haven't been the same since...

Yeah Neil--as Jim pointed out, Desmond recorded for RCA from 1961-65, on breaks from the DBQ. The albums are Desmond Blue, with strings; Two Of A Mind, with a two-sax quartet co-starring Gerry Mulligan; and Take Ten, Bossa Antigua, Glad To Be Unhappy, and Easy Living, all with a quartet co-starring Jim Hall. I've compiled a complete sessionography of his RCA activities if Nipper's Place is looking for one. :wink:
 

Rudy

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William said:
Both Summertime and Bridge are available as Japanese imports, POCM-5066 and POCM-5067 respectively.

Cool!

William said:
I've compiled a complete sessionography of his RCA activities if Nipper's Place is looking for one. :wink:

Always looking! I'll make a spot for it! The only album I have is Desmond Blue, on an well-worn vinyl copy and the recent CD reissue which has different (and better?) cover art.

-= N =-
 
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