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The Sound Of A Dry Martini - Remembering Paul Desmond by Brent Jensen

The title of this CD paraphrases what the late saxophonist Paul Desmond said he wanted to sound like. Idaho based Brent Jensen creates not so much a tribute album (which seem to be in vogue these days) as he does an album that captures the same essence that Desmond had.

Neither a hip bopper, nor a cool West Coaster, Desmond often seems to fall between the cracks of American jazz history. Best known for his long association with pianist Dave Brubeck, who’s hit "Take Five" features Desmond’s dry alto sax, he carved a niche for himself with a unique sound and style. In an era of hard driving players like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, Desmond was sometimes dismissed as playing too "pretty." But what people missed, was that behind his "pretty" sound was a great gift for lyricism. Desmond played sax like many of the great vocalists sang. There was a sense of ease about him and a knack for working around the melody.

Jensen brings this same sort of styling to the music here. His playing is sure footed, yet carries a sense of ease that flows through each tune. It’s uncanny how much he sounds like Desmond at times, yet there is no sense of mimicry here. He is his own player here, and he has surrounded himself with talented musicians. Guitarist Jamie Findlay makes a good foil for Jensen. His solos are lyrical and show a mature knowledge of this style of guitar. Too many guitarists today are out of the fusion mold and see solos as an excuse for technical displays. Findlay paces himself, making every note count, letting the music unwind naturally. Bassist Zac Matthews and drummer Dean Koba offer excellent support. Their playing is tight, yet not obtrusive. Koba deserves kudos for his drum solo on "Take Five" which harks back to the spirit of Brubeck’s master drummer, Joe Morello.

If this is the sound of a dry martini, then make mine a double. Highly recommended.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Brent Jensen
  • CD Title: The Sound Of A Dry Martini - Remembering Paul Desmond
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Origin
  • Rating: Five Stars
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