Paul Desmond - Easy Living
Paul Desmond - alto saxophone [click here to see more vinyl featuring Paul Desmond]
Jim Hall (guitar) [click here to see more vinyl featuring Jim Hall]
Gene Wright, Gene Cherico, Percy Heath (bass)
Connie Kay (drums)
Written by Jack Segal (A1), Robert Wells (A1), Lew Brown (A2), Sammy Fain (A2), Johnny Burke (A3, A4), James Van Heusen (A3, A4), Ralph Rainger (B1), Leo Robin (B1), Alan Jay Lerner (B2), Frederick Loewe (B2), Lorenz Hart (B3), Richard Rodgers (B3), Paul Desmond (B4)
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Columbia
Recording: June 1963, July and September 1964, June 1965 at RCA Studio, New York City by Ray Hall
Production: George Avakian
Originally released in 1966
Reissued in 2018
Side A :
- When Joanna Loved Me
- That Old Feeling
- Polka Dots And Moonbeams
- Here's That Rainy Day
Side B :
- Easy Living
- I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
- Blues For Fun
« As the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall quartet's recording activities gradually came to a halt by 1965, RCA Victor assembled the remains of a number of their later sessions into one last album. These are anything but leftovers, however -- indeed, they constitute the best Desmond/Hall album since Take Ten, more varied in texture and mood, and by and large more inspired in solo content, than Bossa Antigua and Glad to Be Unhappy. As a near-ideal example of this collaboration at its intuitive peak, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" opens with Hall paraphrasing the tune, and Desmond comes in on the bridge with a perfectly timed rejoinder that sounds as if he's asking a question. "Here's That Rainy Day" is another apt match of a standard to Desmond's sophisticated personality; he is at his dry, jaunty best on the uptempo "That Old Feeling"; and both have a ball jamming on the blues in Desmond's wry, quick "Blues for Fun." » AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell
« The gorgeous tone produced by alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond was famously compared to a dry martini. Desmond was a master of the altissimo register on the alto sax. His alto high notes have a sensuousness that can only be compared to Willie Smith or Johnny Hodges, but Desmond’s tone to me comes closer to elegance than to the soulfulness that the other two alto giants possessed. Paul’s playing was seemingly effortless, that surely belied his talents.
Desmond was most famous for his extended tenure with Dave Brubeck, and also for composing “Take Five,” which may be the most well known jazz composition ever, especially for casual jazz fans.
After the late 1960s, his membership in Brubeck’s group was only periodic up until his death in 1977. Later in his career, Paul made a series of albums with cool toned guitarist, Jim Hall, that are available as a hard to find box set on RCA. Hall was a perfect partner for Desmond, as each was understated and lightly swinging, as they explored jazz standards. Their communication was symbiotic, and counterpoint was often used.
The boutique vinyl label, Speakers Corner, from Europe, has recently released Easy Living, which was recorded using three different bass players over a three year period, and issued in 1966. The drummer on all the sessions was Connie Kay, who was most famous for his time with the Modern Jazz Quartet. The bassists were Gene Wright (from Brubeck’s group); Gene Cherico (who was with Stan Getz at that time); and Percy Heath, the most well known, and brother of Jimmy and Tootie.
Song selection are well known standards, with the exception of “Blues for Fun,” the only uptempo, largely improvised tune recorded. This track has the only real bass solo on the album, this one features Gene Cherico.
“When Joanna Loved Me” opens on Side 1 with Paul’s breathy, velvety tone fully on display. Jim Hall gets his solo time, as well, as the pattern for the album gently falls into place. The bass and drums throughout strictly comp. On “Joanna” Gene Wright provides the steady heart beat that is noticeable, and contributes to the relaxed swing.
There is a great solo for Hall on “That Old Feeling.” The “floating on air” quality of Desmond’s playing is intoxicating. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” is reflective in nature, and “Here’s That Rainy Day” closes the first side a bit more uptempo.
The title track pretty well confirms that Paul Desmond is the proper choice to describe its name. He makes it almost effortless, as such is easy living. Both “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and “Bewitched” are classic tunes, and ear candy for late night listening. The closing “Blues for Fun” as mentioned earlier, lets the alto/guitar duo stretch out a bit to improvise, and give some “heat” and has the welcome solo from Cherico.
All in all, a winning session from two consummate pros, and the acoustics are top notch as engineer, Ray Hall, as usual, was well up to the task. Vinyl lovers and fans of Desmond and Hall, will surely enjoy this warmly recorded re-release. » Jeff Krow, Audiophile Audition, Apr 9, 2019
Why should you buy this LP? 1. Because of its super sound? Of course! 2. Because Paul Desmond and Jim Hall are playing? Naturally! 3. For "Easy Living"? Surely one of the best numbers in one of the most multifaceted versions! 4. Because you missed out on the first release in 1966? Well, don’t make the same mistake in 2018!
Not everyone wants to purchase all Victor recordings by Paul Desmond and Jim Hall with umpteen alternate takes in a voluminous CD Box, to listen to it all, and to find it just wonderful to show off on the record shelf. The eight numbers on "Easy Living" constitute the height of Desmond’s career anyway after he had at last managed to take his leave from Dave Brubeck’s group. And the change from purely chordal playing and single notes from Jim Hall is more airy and more inspiring than the meaty piano clusters of his former boss.
And don’t forget either that half of the Modern Jazz Quartet, namely the bassist Percy Heath and the drummer Connie Kay, deliver an exquisite skeletal structure over which the musicians can improvise brilliantly.
LPs are, and remain, unbeatable, both as regards sound and feel. And happily they are also a safe investment – maybe not all, but "Easy Living" with Paul Desmond and Jim Hall most definitely!
AllMusic : 4.5 / 5 , Discogs : Rate Your Music :