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Vinyl Record Review, Jazz, Paul Desmond, Desmond BluePublished 2014-09-05
Paul Desmond: Desmond Blue, Paul Desmond with Strings, 1962 RCA Victor LSP-2438
180 Gram Vinyl Limited Edition Recording. Recorded at Webster Hall, NYC.
Audiophile Rating: Music 10 / Sound Quality 9
This is one that if you are into music at all, not just Jazz, should be a part of your collection! The second track on this album having been made popular to listeners in the (St. Louis broadcast region), by St. Louis radio Hall of famer “Leo Chears” aka “Man in the Red Vest”. Leo used “voice over” on this track titled “Desmond Blue” to begin his popular Jazz show from WRMY & later WSIE “The Jazz Station” for more than 20 years. Even if you don’t remember Leo’s broadcast it’s likely that when you hear this track again, you immediately feel like something is missing – which would be Leo’s voice over “Jazz as wide as the world is wide…as High as the Sky is High”…this is “Leo Chears, man in the red vest” – Like many, Leo was the very DJ that nurtured my appreciation of Jazz, and with his great knowledge of such original artists taught me just how grand this original American art form is. Like many, the music I frequent is what I grew up with, in my case, “classic rock”. But during my late 20’s working the swing shift, (no pun intended), at Scott AFB in the Com Center, I would tune in around 11:00PM to hear Leo’s show, which was one of the coolest shows on the air. “We miss you Leo”
One of the things that immediately appealed to me about Jazz was that some of it was like “instrumental rock” (not this album, this is straight Jazz)but often with more ‘natural instruments” like saxophone, brass, woodwinds, or the occasional very grand piano. I immediately noticed that (on a nicer audio system) this genre sounded so much more “real” to me, as if I was witnessing the music “live”. I became aware of the many similarities between the two genres. Of course hard core Jazz fans might consider this observation blasphemy, but the reality is much of rock, especially from the 1965 – 1975 era barrows a lot from Jazz. From guitar licks to percussionist styles, and a great many rock legends cut their teeth on Jazz, like drummers Ginger Baker (Cream/Blind Faith) & Bill Bruford (YES, Genesis, King Crimson), to guitarists like Jeff Beck and even Randy Bachman.
But this recording goes beyond just good instrumental Jazz. As Desmond’s debut album, he was already a widely recognized talent, saxophone for the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and writer of Brubeck’s top hit “Take Five”. Desmond’s careful selection of first class musicians for the arrangements on this iconic album are obvious in their fluid understanding of each other. Orchestra Conducted by Bob Prince & featuring guitarist Jim Hall.
This is one of those aural masterworks (we must also attribute to recording engineer Ray Hall) that you’ll want to reserve for those who don’t understand why you spent thousands on your audio systems instead of hundreds (or why you have a better than average turntable). When a half a dozen or so instruments seam to emanate from all around the listener as if they themselves were sitting in the recording studio as it happened. Similar to, but not quite as pronounced, as the effects on “Amused to death” by Pink Floyd’s own Roger Waters. Rogers talks of “Q-Sound” for that recording, whereas the only hint of something sonically special on Desmond Blue is the words (A “new Orthophonic” High Fidelity Recording) just under the RCA Victor trademark.
***Recommend searching for a better image of the record album and reading the story on the back – puts into perspective the megalithic character of his debut masterpiece!
…excerpt from story; …designed to sooth and stimulate the sophisticated listener…you have never heard him in such a setting: strings, woodwinds, harp, and rhythm, complementing to perfection the seemingly effortless and soaring Desmond horn…
Highly recommended by Jazz enthusiast and audiophiles the world over…”Enjoy”
--The Crew @ Rich's Records