Desmond, Paul, 1924-1977

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Paul Desmond is widely considered one of the great alto saxophonists in jazz history. He was an essential member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s and 1960s. As a member of the Quartet, Desmond wrote "Take Five," the best selling jazz single in history. Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco on November 25, 1924. He played piano, clarinet, and saxophone while growing up, but focused on alto saxophone during his professional career. Desmond and Brubeck formed the core of the Brubeck Quartet in 1951. Over the next sixteen years the group was one of the most popular acts in jazz, touring the world and releasing several best-selling albums. Desmond also recorded and performed with his own groups, usually as a quartet. He died in New York City on May 30, 1977. A comprehensive treatment of Desmond's life can be found in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey (Parkside Publications, 2005). Many of the diaries, letters, and other documents in the Paul Desmond Collection are reproduced in this biography.

From the description of Paul Desmond Papers, 1890-1991 (bulk, 1940-1970). (University of the Pacific). WorldCat record id: 62709954

Biography / Administrative History

Paul Desmond is widely considered one of the great alto saxophonists in jazz history. He was an essential member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the 1950s and 1960s. As a member of the Quartet, Desmond wrote "Take Five," the best selling jazz single in history. Desmond was born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco on November 25, 1924. He played piano, clarinet, and saxophone while growing up, but focused on alto saxophone during his professional career.

Desmond and Brubeck formed the core of the Brubeck Quartet in 1951. Over the next sixteen years the group was one of the most popular acts in jazz, touring the world and releasing several best-selling albums. Desmond also recorded and performed with his own groups, usually as a quartet. He died in New York City on May 30, 1977.

A comprehensive treatment of Desmond's life can be found in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond by Doug Ramsey (Parkside Publications, 2005). Many of the diaries, letters, and other documents in the Paul Desmond Collection are reproduced in this biography.

From the guide to the Paul Desmond Papers, 1890-1991, (bulk, 1940-1970), (University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Paul Desmond Papers, 1890-1991, (bulk, 1940-1970) University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of Special Collections
referencedIn Brubeck, Dave. Dave Brubeck collection, 1920- University of the Pacific, William Knox Holt Memorial Library
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf UNCSA Trombone Choir. Trombone Choir, James Miller, conductor [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Desmond, Paul, 1924-1977. Paul Desmond Papers, 1890-1991 (bulk, 1940-1970). University of the Pacific, William Knox Holt Memorial Library
referencedIn The Bell Telephone Hour collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1940-1968 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Rudkin, Ron. Performance hour [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn Brubeck collection, ca. 1890-, ca. 1945- University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of Special Collections
referencedIn Duke Ellington recordings collection Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Paul Desmond collection, [ca. 1977-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Breitenfeld, Emil corporateBody
associatedWith Breitenfeld, Emil. person
associatedWith Breitenfeld, Paul, 1924- person
associatedWith Brubeck, Dave. person
associatedWith Brubeck, Dave - 1920- person
associatedWith Brubeck, Iola - 1923- person
associatedWith Dave Brubeck Quartet. corporateBody
associatedWith Dodge, Joseph Jeffers person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith UNCSA Trombone Choir. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Saxophonists--United States
Jazz musicians
Jazz musicians--United States
Saxophonists
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1924-11-25

Death 1977-05-30

Americans

English

Information

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