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Paul Desmond

Biography

Paul Desmond was widely quoted as saying that he wanted his saxophone to sound like a dry martini. That quote could apply to the man himself: he was urbane, witty, sophisticated, and the music he made was intoxicating. San Francisco native Desmond hit the big time with pianist Dave Brubeck, forming an unbeatable musical team in which his incredible improvisatory sax flights remained lyrically and emotionally grounded, while Brubeck applied advanced musical theory on the keys. Desmond wrote "Take Five" in order to have a smoke during the drum solo, and it became a surprise hit single that remains a jazz standard to this day. He went on to record a series of stellar albums with guitarist Jim Hall, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. Desmond later died of lung cancer, but not before donating all "Take Five" royalties to the International Red Cross.

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