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Paul Desmond, Idol of Cool

Affectionately nicknamed “the swingin' introvert” by his friends and peers, Paul Desmond's dulcet alto sax voice has become one of the iconic sounds of modern jazz. Although best known for his long-time musical relationship with Dave Brubeck, Desmond quietly carved his name into jazz history with other luminaries of the day as well. Over 30 years after his passing, he remains one of the most lyrical and melodic saxophonists ever heard, and typifies his genre perfectly—if Miles Davis gave birth to the cool, and if Chet Baker was its prince, Desmond was certainly its idol. San Francisco and the Early Days Born Paul Emil Breitenfield, on November 25, 1924, Desmond's musical background was fostered throughout his childhood. His father, an organist, also arranged music for the Golden Gate Theater in their native San Francisco. Desmond played violin and clarinet throughout high school, but switched to alto saxophone at 19 years of age, the same year he would be drafted for the …

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