In the midst of lolling away his time in semi-retirement after the Dave Brubeck Quartet broke up in 1967, Paul Desmond allowed himself to be lured back into the recording studio by producer Creed Taylor, who knew exactly what to do with his idle, but by no means spent, alto player. The result is a beautifully produced, eclectic album of music that revives Desmond's "bossa antigua" idea and sends it in different directions, directly toward Brazil and various Caribbean regions, as well as back to the jazzy States. "Samba With Some Barbecue" is a marvelous bossa nova treatment of Louis Armstrong's New Orleans rouser "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," whose opening bars bear an uncanny resemblance to those of "Samba de Orpheus" (which the erudite Desmond was no doubt aware of). No matter how many times you've heard "Autumn Leaves," Desmond's bossa nova treatment will give you a fresh jolt as he offhandedly tosses off the most exquisitely swinging ruminations; too bad it fades after only three minutes. In a pliable mood, Desmond even consents to record a then-new Beatles tune, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," samba-style, quoting "Hey Jude" along the way (it's very possible that he was attracted by the main character of the lyric, a fellow named Desmond), and he makes potent music out of movie tunes like "Emily" and even the snazzy "Lady in Cement." Don Sebesky brings in some intelligently crafted arrangements for big band augmented by French horns, Herbie Hancock turns in some often brilliant solo work in several featured spots, Ron Carter is on bass, and Leo Morris and Airto Moreira alternate on drums. Never before had Desmond's alto been recorded so ravishingly -- Rudy Van Gelder's engineering gives it a new golden-mellow glow -- and the original LP had a great, sarcastic cover: gleaming icicles.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell