Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: November 27-28 and December 4, 1973
Paul Desmond (as) Bob James (el-p); Gabor Szabo, Gene Bertoncini (g); Ron Carter (b); Jack DeJohnette (d); Don Sebesky (arr,supervise).
same as above, add Ralph MacDonald (perc), Don Sebesky (arr,adapt).
Paul Desmond (as) Bob James (el-p); Gene Bertoncini (g); Ron Carter (b); Jack DeJohnette (d); Ralph MacDonald (perc); Don Sebesky (arr,supervise).
same as above without Ralph MacDonald and add George Ricci (cello); Don Sebesky (arr,adapt).
same as above, except Gabor Szabo (g) replaces George Ricci.
Paul Desmond (as); Bob James (p); Gene Bertoncini (g); Ron Carter (b); Jack DeJohnette (d), Don Sebesky (arr,adapt).
same as above without Bob James.
Paul Desmond (as); Gabor Szabo (g); Ron Carter (b); Jack DeJohnette (d).
Paul Desmond's solo career, much of it guided by Creed Taylor from 1968 though 1974, was not dictated by risk-taking. The alto-saxophonist became famed while with Dave Brubeck's quartet for pretty intonation and witty interjections. SKYLARK is an exception. This outstanding late-1973 date was the first of two records Desmond recorded for CTI under his own name (he was also featured on projects by Don Sebesky, Jim Hall and Chet Baker). What makes it so unusual is the addition of guitarist Gabor Szabo. Unlike Desmond's past partner in crime, Jim Hall (or Canadian Ed Bickert shortly thereafter) Szabo was not an obvious accompanist (it was Creed Taylor's idea, having just signed the guitarist to CTI). Szabo's jangled runs, metallic tone and unusual conceptions seemed opposed to Desmond's pretty playing and polite witticism. Oddly though, Desmond is more ideally suited to guitarist Gene Bertoncini, who sticks to playing acoustic rhythm throughout. Szabo gets the solos -- and he plays brilliantly, even poetically throughout (formerly only on the brilliant "Take Ten" and the mysterious "Romance de Amour" - and now also on alternate takes of "Skylark" and "Indian Summer"). To compound it, drummer Jack DeJohnette was hardly suited to Desmond either. The busy, polyphonic, near-brilliant percussion cues evidenced here are hardly the sort of thing Desmond would have expected from Joe Morello or Connie Kay. What holds it all together is Fender Rhodes man Bob James and, of course, bassist Ron Carter. Together, the two conspire to wed the traditional beauty of Desmond and Bertoncini with the exotica of Szabo and DeJohnette into quite potent, hypnotic performances. SKYLARK is strong, beautiful work that provides an elegant platform for Desmond's talents (more than the ho-hum follow-up, PURE DESMOND) and offers one of the best, most interesting jazz records of the early 1970s.