Iconic Spotlight : Paul Desmond, by Ted Williams

Paul Desmond

“That Friday night in the bleak off-stage area of cavernous Soldier Field, while Paul was waiting to go on, we talked of a Chicago party of a few years earlier. The memory still brings a smile.

That had been a Jazz at the Philharmonic-type concert at the Opera House with about a dozen groups, that meant a couple of hundred musicians and hangers-on… Anyway, Annie Ross was staying with a close friend on the Near North Side and thought it would be cool to have a few people over after the concert to unwind.

As luck would have it, I was an early arrival at the party location so I watched this amazing evening unfold with, well, amazement. I think the first guests were from Maynard Ferguson’s band; “Desmond sent me.” Everyone brought their horns and when I saw the drums being set up in the dining room, I knew it was going to be a serious party!
“Desmond sent me” was repeared many times as more party guest sarrived – it was standing room only!

Many hours later, when most celebrants were gone, someone asked, “Did Paul ever get here?” Short answer – “No.” We tried to get him to call later and ask if there had been any messages for Paul Desmond. He declined, and doesn’t remember telling more than two people about the party. It’s set time. Flip the cigarette…”

Taken from ‘Jazz, by Ted Williams’, published by ACC Art Books.

View more from Ted Williams’ archive here.

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