Celebrity Photo

Paul Desmond

Highest Rated: 57% Legends of the Fall (1994)

Lowest Rated: 11% All the King's Men (2006)

Birthday: Nov 25, 1924

Birthplace: Not Available

Saxophonist Paul Desmond was best known as the composer of "Take Five," one of the most popular tunes in the jazz canon. Though his career spanned three decades, it's largely defined by his 16-year stint in the groundbreaking Dave Brubeck Quartet. Born Paul Emil Breitenfeld in San Francisco, Desmond came from an unstable family and would sometimes be sent to live with relatives in New York City. His father was a silent-movie organist and Desmond began playing, against his parents' wishes, at an early age-first on violin and then clarinet; he didn't take up alto sax until attending San Francisco State College. His first major gig was with Brubeck, the two were longtime friends despite occasional fallouts. They even had a similar look, with both sporting wavy hair and hornrim glasses. Brubeck however was a family man, while Desmond was known as a playboy and never married. Desmond initially joined Brubeck's Octet in the late '40s; according to legend, Brubeck fired Desmond during a tour so that Desmond would be able to gamble in Reno. They formally reconnected when the Quartet was formed in 1951, with Desmond's cool sound and melodic gifts making a complement to Brubeck's more aggressive playing. The group caught on through a series of college tours; their classically-inspired compositions proved a perfect fit for the highbrow audience that was then latching onto jazz. Released in 1959, Brubeck's Time Out took jazz out of a strict 4/4 and into previously unexplored time signatures. Desmond's "Take Five" managed to swing breezily in a hard-to-navigate 5/4. It became the first jazz album to sell a million copies, while a single version of "Take Five" (a different recording from the LP) became one of the best-selling jazz 45's. Desmond stayed with Brubeck for a series of "time" albums (Time In, Time Further Out) and travel-oriented sets (Jazz Impressions of Japan, a 1966 album of Cole Porter songs became the quartet's last studio album. Desmond's later years were marked by a series of collaborations He played a well-received New Orleans Jazz Festival date with Gerry Mulligan in 1969, and two years later joined the Modern Jazz Quartet for a one-off show and live album at New York's Town Hall. With guitarist Jim Hall he recorded "Take Ten," a sequel to his signature tune. Desmond's most surprising work as a leader was the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water, devoted to the Simon & Garfunkel catalogue and featuring pianist Herbie Hancock. Yet he'd remain associated with Brubeck; the two did a duets album (with no rhythm section) in 1975 and a 25th anniversary Quartet reunion the next year. Desmond's final live show, in February 1977 would also be with Brubeck. Always fond of cigarettes and whiskey, Desmond died of lung cancer three months later.

Highest rated movies

Legends of the Fall
All the King's Men



11% 40% All the King's Men Slade (Character) $7.2M 2006
57% 87% Legends of the Fall Decker (Character) $63.2M 1994