Paul Desmond

I have been listening a lot to Paul Desmond  (born Paul Emil Breitenfeld; November 25, 1924 – May 30, 1977) again lately. I have always admired his skill and phrasing as an improvisor.

Guitarist Jim Hall said that he could improvise melodies that were better than the tune he was playing on and I think that is true.

He also had a great wit. When asked why he changed his last name to Desmond he said that he thought Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.

I especially like his duet recordings with Gerry Mulligan.

Joe Pass

I owe a lot to Joe Pass. Outside of Django I have learned more from him than any other guitarist I can think of though you could probably include Pat Martino in that group.

I recently felt a “playing” slump which happens to musicians. For me, I can always snap out of by listening to Joe. So I put on my favorite Joe Pass album and, in my opinion, one of the very best Jazz guitar albums ever: “Intercontinental“.

I bought this album on vinyl when it first came out in 1973. It has an interesting history. It was recorded in Germany, in the heart of the Black Forest, by a studio/label that was well known for pristine recording technique and great taste. Joe was there to play guitar on an album by Jazz accordion great Art Van Damme. On the off days, apparently, the studio/label decided to make a Joe Pass trio album with the drummer (English) and the bass player (German). The result is the album I speak of. Highly recommended.