Featuring Don Elliott

Paul Desmond

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Featuring Don Elliott Review

by Richard S. Ginell

Desmond takes an emphatic step forward as a stylist here, even while giving featured co-billing to his brass sideman Don Elliott. Again, he chooses to omit the piano so as not to compete with his Brubeck recordings (Brubeck and Desmond had an informal agreement to that effect), and his musical imagination here doesn't really require a piano's harmonic support anyway. Desmond sounds much more confident and witty than at any time on his debut LP, knocking out a really great solo on his own "Jazzabelle" for starters, bowing to no outside style ogres. Desmond's other composition "Sacre Blues" is a clever takeoff from the first few notes of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," with a walking bass counting off the beat; and the normally self-effacing saxophonist even goes way up high for one of the few times in his solo career. Elliott, who bailed out of jazz later to find success writing music for commercials, is a fine swinging player on trumpet and mellophone (moonlighting liner annotator Mort Sahl indicates four instruments but doesn't identify them), and Elliott and Desmond exchange many fine contrapuntal ideas. Norm Bates is on bass and "Joe Chevrolet" (Joe Dodge, of course) clicks swingingly on drums. This session can also be heard on the Quintet/Quartet CD.