Paul Desmond: Wendy




Paul Desmond (alto sax)


Live (Verve 314 543 501)

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Paul Desmond (alto sax), Ed Bickert (guitar), Don Thompson (bass), Jerry Fuller (drums).

Composed by Paul Desmond


Recorded: Basin Street, Toronto, October 25-November 1, 1975


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

If cool jazz got any cooler than this, you would need to wear parkas to the gig. This is the perfect realization of a certain type of jazz, purged of macho aggression and grandstanding, and luxuriating in the taste of each phrase. Desmond, at this point, had nothing to prove to anyone. He would never be "king of the cats," since he had committed to an aesthetic vision that ran counter to the hot intensity that has always dominated (and always will dominate) the jazz idiom. Paris may be for romantics. Niagara Falls may be for romantics. But not the jazz bandstand . . . where a certain type of athletic combativeness invariably comes to the fore. When Darwin conceived of "survival of the fittest," he must have just come back from watching a jam session. Yet every once in a while someone like Desmond slips through the cracks, and demonstrates the possibility of a different way of soloing. "Wendy" is one of his most endearing compositions, in a similar vein to his lovely "Audrey." Desmond imparts a loving nudge to each note, and delivers one of the most perfectly realized solos of his career. Bickert maintains the delicacy of the mood with a very introspective chord-based solo. This is late-period Desmond at his very best.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


  • 1 Anne MacDonald // Sep 30, 2008 at 09:13 PM
    Yes, Wendy is a gorgeous, utterly melodic piece, with the great alto saxophonists romantic fingerprints all over it. Question: were there ever any lyrics composed for it?