Paul Desmond Biography

Paul Desmond was one of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived, and he achieved this through his unique style of playing the saxophone. He is best known for being the lead singer and composer of the song Autumn Leaves, which is often played at funerals and memorial services.

He became a legendary figure in the history of jazz by recording a number of instrumental compositions, including "Take Five", "Desmond's Mood", "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Autumn Leaves".

In addition, he was a singer, a composer, an arranger, a bandleader and a soloist. His career as a jazz musician spanned over 50 years. He started his career as a trumpeter. Later he moved on to being a saxophonist. In the end, he became a flutist. He was also a composer and an arranger. In this article, I will talk about his life and how he ended up becoming a jazz musician. 

Early Life

Desmond was born in New York City in 1924, and grew up in New York City. His parents were both teachers, and Paul started playing the piano when he was five. By the time he was six, his father bought him an upright piano, and he learned to play.  At nine, he started playing with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He was the youngest person to play with them. He played on several of the group's albums, including Dave Brubeck Time, Gone with the Wind, I Like to Sing the Blues, and Take Five.

He attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, where he studied under the instruction of Alfredo Antonini. In 1941, he began attending the Juilliard School, where he studied with such notable teachers as Nadia Boulanger and Aaron Copland.

He studied classical piano with the French pianist Lucien Capet, and at age 11, he started learning to play the saxophone. At age seventeen, Desmond left high school and moved to Chicago to work as a pianist for the band of Earl Hines. Hines had been one of the first musicians to record and popularize ragtime music, and he was looking to bring this style of music into the mainstream.


When Paul Desmond was a child he played a lot of trumpet. He was good at it, but when he was a teenager, he became interested in other instruments such as the piano and the saxophone. He learned how to play the saxophone and he began to perform with different jazz bands. 

By the age of 20 he had become one of the top jazz musicians in New York City. It was at this point that he decided to change his instrument from the saxophone to the flute. After that he got a job playing for a band called the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Soon afterwards he became the band leader. He did this until the mid-1950s. 

Jazz music has been around since the early 1920s. It was played by people in big bands. By the 1940s and 1950s, a lot of famous jazz musicians were already performing at concerts and clubs. One of the best-known jazz musicians was Paul Desmond. He was a trumpeter who played with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman. After playing with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, Desmond made it on his own. 

Moreover, he later formed his own band. His band was called "Desmond's Dixieland Jass Band". This band consisted of a rhythm section and Desmond on flute. He also composed and arranged music for this band. His composition "Minor Swing" was released in 1958. He played as a leader in the big band era. He was the lead singer and the lead instrumentalist.

He played the trumpet in a jazz band, and was part of the house band at the Half Moon Inn in the Catskills. He was a member of the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, and the Newport Folk Festival. He also performed with many other musicians, including Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington. He became well-known in the jazz world, and was awarded the first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Performance. 

A collection of recordings taken in 1963 by the American jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond is also entitled as Take Ten.

After a number of years performing with some of the biggest names in jazz, he began his own band and went on to record two of the greatest hits in jazz history, “Desmond,” and “All of You.” His hits included “Easy To Love,” “My Funny Valentine” and “Stella By Starlight.”


Below is a list of albums by Paul Desmond: 

  • Brubeck Time
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Take Five
  • You're Gonna Love Tomorrow
  • The Duke
  • The Real Thing
  • Dave Brubeck Time
  • Gone with the Wind
  • I Like to Sing the Blues
  • The Man with the Horn
  • Tutu
  • Milestones
  • Brubeck Quartet
  • I Remember Miles
  • I Got Rhythm 
  • In My Solitude
  • Time Remembered


In conclusion, he had a very interesting life. He was a gifted musician and a great talent. He was also a composer, arranger, bandleader and a soloist. He played with many famous musicians and bands. Paul Desmond was a versatile pianist who became renowned for his musical interpretations of jazz standards. He has a lot of awards and achievements to his name. His career spanned over 50 years. Desmond was a champion of new music and introduced some of its leading exponents to the world.