Desmond-Induced Deflation

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.20

Difficulty:  Like swinging convincingly in 5/4 time

This has nothing to do with the puzzle – it’s me toasting the Welsh Men’s Choir with a well-earned beer after hiking in Brecon Beacon National Park, Wales.

On my best days playing alto sax, my tone was a pale imitation of Paul Desmond’s crystal, liquid, heavenly sound.  Desmond was a marvel – a soloist whose intelligence and grace made his lines seem inevitable, and a composer of one of the very greatest jazz classics (see 60 Across), track three on the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s hugely influential Time Out album (one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time).  If you know the tune, the puzzle should be medium difficulty; if you don’t, it’ll be tougher.  Check out this live performance.  Desmond’s sinuous solo builds tension and release over a hypnotic, two-chord drone (Eb minor-Bb minor).  Brubeck follows with a brief, mysterious piano solo far removed from his usual crashing chords.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the puzzle – and I really hope you enjoy the tune and give Desmond and the Dave Brubeck Quartet a listen.

online | puz | pdf | solution

Set List

Set List 4: Raitt/Brubeck/Hall & Oates/Grateful Dead

Words:  76

Average Length:  4.87

Difficulty:  Easier than finding four less similar acts to perform in the same concert

Florence’s river (63 Across)

Persuading smushed-together song titles to divide symmetrically is a non-trivial undertaking.  My other Set List puzzles had symmetrical theme answers spanning three long entries.  For this puzzle, try as I might, I could only create a set list spanning two long, symmetrical entries.  I’d been thinking of using the made-up rumored collaboration at 38 Across in a different puzzle, but I decided a shorter set list would be fine provided that the collaboration had a central spot in this grid.

online | puz | pdf | solution