This is a rather relaxed recording featuring baritonist Gerry Mulligan and some of his top alumni (trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey) exploring three of his own songs (including "Festive Minor"), Chopin's Prelude in E minor, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," and "Morning of the Carnival" (from Black Orpheus). The emphasis is on ballads and nothing too innovative occurs, but the results are pleasing and laid-back.
Mention the style “cool jazz” to a music fan and most likely their first thought will be of Chet Baker or Dave Brubeck. All well and good, but there was a cat who came before them who actually laid the groundwork for the style. That was Gerry Mulligan, the baritone saxophonist, arranger, and composer whose original piano-less quartet introduced Baker to the world, and who was also present at the early Miles Davis BIRTH OF THE COOL sessions.
Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. Two different sides of Verve Records in the 50s – one modern, one a bit more traditional – and both represented in live material from the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957! Side one features a stunning live performance from pianist Teddy Wilson – working in a tight trio with Milt Hinton on bass and Spec Powell on drums – and really blowing away any conceptions we might have had about Wilson being aging or flowery at the time. Instead, he's got a sharp edge and command of the keys that's amazing – and which almost seems to have a bit more bite than usual in this concert setting.
In the summer of 1991 Gerry Mulligan decided to revisit Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool recordings. He discussed it with Miles Davis himself who said he might be interested in participating but sadly Davis died a few months later. With Wallace Roney (the perfect sound-alike) in the trumpeter's place, baritonist Mulligan got the band's original pianist and tuba player (John Lewis and Bill Barber), used his own bassist (Dean Johnson) and drummer (Ron Vincent), and found able substitutes in altoist Phil Woods (unfortunately Lee Konitz was unavailable to play his old parts), trombonist Dave Bargeron and John Clark on French horn.
This jazz-themed performance release travels back to June 13, 1980 at Stockholm's famous Jazz and Blues Festival, where The Gerry Mulligan Quartet (comprised of baritone sax player Mulligan, bassist Peter Axelsson, drummer Ronnie Gardener and pianist Don Trenner) headline a live set before an enthusiastic festival audience.
Starting in the late '50s, Gerry Mulligan recorded a series of encounters with fellow saxophonists that included such immortals as Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. In 1986 he resumed the practice for this one date on which his baritone is matched with the tenor of the young great Scott Hamilton. The music, which includes warm ballads and fairly hot romps (five of the seven songs are Mulligan originals), consistently swing and are quite enjoyable.