March 16, 2023

Warning, the following review may mention the word jazz several times! Now, I must admit that I love jazz from all the way from Speakeasy through trad jazz, the biggies like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, all of the jazz fusion guys (Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra etc) and the more contemporary artists like Chris Potter and Phronesis. Indeed, I truly believe that progressive rock and jazz share so many similarities as both delight in pushing the musical boundaries and revel in complexity and extended compositions.

This all brings us neatly to the seemingly oddly named Pure Desmond which is a German jazz quartet formed in 2002 and is a unit that contains a team of musicians who are sensational exponents of the cool jazz movement of the ’50s and ’60s with their taken name being a homage to one of the scene’s finest exponents in Paul Desmond. He was a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and it was he who penned their monster hit Take Five which is most probably the one jazz song that everyone on the planet knows. The band name is a clever one as it is taken from one of Desmond’s albums entitled Pure Desmond which was originally released in 1974 (three years prior to his death) and, as with everything from his catalogue, is a perfect example of exactly what cool jazz is.

Pure Desmond has now released several albums containing original songs and some very clever re-interpretations of classic tracks with this new album being exactly what it says it is i.e. music taken from the Bond films and all originally from a truly diverse collection of inspirational artists making instantly recognisable songs and all with that trade-mark and very big ‘Bond’ Sound’. Pure Desmond takes these and weaves a special kind of magic to give them all a totally new dynamic. Check out the tracks to see songs that you are all so familiar with but, in truth, the Bond themes have never sounded this good when given a touch of a samba beat or played with a relaxed and laid-back delivery but always served up with style and panache which, let’s be fair, was always the very epitome of James Bond.

Lorenz Hargassner is sensational with his achingly beautiful alto saxophone with simply divine accompaniment from Johann Weiss on guitar and all to a fabulous beat laid down by Christian Flohr on double-bass and Sebastian Deufel on drums. Together, they combine to deliver up jazz perfection that is so redolent of the late hours of the evening and always calls to mind those smoke filled, whisky fuelled American early ’60s jazz bars and what a delight it must have been to have been there to soak in the atmosphere.

If you are into movie soundtracks, Bond movies and cool jazz then Christmas has come (very) early as this album is sheer, relaxed and glamorous perfection. Check out the album cover which scream James Bond in its glamorous sophistication and the delights within reinforce a time when music was appealing and simply oh so cool. Some may listen and say this is nothing short of elevator muzak but, trust me, if they did play this in elevators then you would never get out!

Plays James Bond Songs

  1. James Bond Theme (3:10)
  2. From Russia With Love (3:38)
  3. We Have All The Time In The World (3:25)
  4. Die Another Day (2:56)
  5. Diamonds Are Forever (2:59)
  6. Licence To Kill (3:44)
  7. Nobody Does It Better (4:47)
  8. You Know My Name (2:58)
  9. Tomorrow Never Dies (3:44)
  10. No Time To Die (4:21)
  11. You Only Live Twice (4:35)