Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #2 – Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond was best known for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, in particular his popular composition, ‘Take Five’.

Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco on November 25, 1924. His father was a pianist, organist, and composer, who accompanied silent films in movie theaters and arranged for music companies. During childhood he spent years living with relatives in New York City due to problems at home. Desmond began playing violin at an early age, though his father forbade him to play it.

At first Desmond and Brubeck did not get on following an earlier falling out at a gig.  Apparently Brubeck only let Desmond back into the band after he agreed to babysit for Brubeck! Their partnership led to one of the most successful groups in jazz and one of the most recognisable sounds on the Alto Saxophone, the sound, (in Desmond’s own words, ‘of a Dry Martini’)