paul desmond's legendary wit...
I have won several prizes as the world's slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness.
You can tell which one is me because when I'm not playing, which is surprisingly often, I'm leaning against the piano.
Jim Hall ... a beautiful musician - the favorite guitar picker of many people who agree on little else in music, and he goes to his left very well. He's... hilariously easy to work with, except he complains once in a while when I lean on the guitar.
I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast.
I was unfashionable before anyone knew who I was.
When asked by Gene Lees what accounted for the melancholy in his playing he Paul Desmond wrote:
"Wellllll... that I'm not playing better."
On the secret of his tone, Paul Desmond wrote:
I honestly don't know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.
He was an English major in college. His reason for not pursuing a literary career, "I could only write at the beach, and I kept getting sand in my typewriter."
on seeing his (ex?) girlfriend out with another guy, Paul Desmond wrote:
This is the way the world ends, not with a whim but a banker.
(will make sense for those who've read t.s. eliot)
Of contact lenses, Paul Desmond wrote:
Not for me. If I want to tune everybody out, I just take off my glasses and enjoy the haze
"How Many Of You Are There In Your Quartet?" - prospective title for his unpublished memoir (apparently stewardesses used to ask this question all the time)
On Ornette Coleman's playing wrote:
It's like living in a house where everything's painted red.
Doug Ramsey wrote that Desmond on seeing Barbara Jones' oil painting of four cats stalking a mouse said, "Ah, the perfect album cover for when I record with the Modern Jazz Quartet." Ramsey pointed out that the mouse was mechanical and Desmond responded, "In that case, Cannonball will have to make the record."
Desmond's fondness for scotch was well known. So in early 1976 when a physical examination showed lung cancer, he was ironically pleased that his liver was fine. "Pristine, perfect. One of the great livers of our time. Awash in Dewars and full of health."