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.
A number of posthumous CDs have appeared following Gerry Mulligan's death in 1996. This one combines two previously unreleased quartet concerts, both featuring Bob Brookmeyer, an equally talented composer and arranger and outstanding valve trombonist. The songs are all familiar to Mulligan fans, including the swinging arrangements of "Laura" and great tunes like "Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," which few other jazz groups seem to play. Mulligan's very cool but awkwardly titled "Bweebida Bobbida" and "Utter Chaos," his favorite theme song, round out the material from the 1957 Hollywood Bowl concert. Bassist Joe Benjamin and drummer Dave Bailey (inexplicably listed as "Donald Bailey" on the CD's back cover) make up the capable rhythm section.
At this 1974 concert baritonist Gerry Mulligan and trumpeter Chet Baker had one of their very rare reunions; it would be only the second and final time that they recorded together after Mulligan's original quartet broke up in 1953. Oddly enough, a fairly contemporary rhythm section was used (keyboardist Bob James, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Harvey Mason, and in one of his first recordings, guitarist John Scofield). However, some of the old magic was still there between the horns, and in addition to two of Mulligan's newer tunes, this set (the first of two volumes) also includes fresh versions of "Line for Lyons" and "My Funny Valentine."
The last of the pianoless quartet albums that Gerry Mulligan recorded in the 1950s is one of the best, featuring the complementary trumpet of Art Farmer, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey along with the baritonist/leader. This recording is a little skimpy on playing time but makes every moment count. Virtually every selection is memorable, with "What Is There to Say," "Just in Time," "Festive Minor," "My Funny Valentine," and "Utter Chaos" being the high points. Highly recommended both to Mulligan collectors and to jazz listeners who are just discovering the great baritonist.
A killer collection of this unique musical moment from Gerry Mulligan – with material that appeared on the albums Concert Jazz Band, Concert Jazz Band At The Village Vanguard, A Concert In Jazz, Concert Jazz Band On Tour Guest Soloist Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan 63 – plus unissued tracks, too! This four disc-set contains all of the existing Concert Band Sessions from May 1960 to December 1962, and makes available for the first time five previously unreleased performances. Some seven others, whose original tapes are either missing or lost, are notated here for the sake of discography. This was, arguably – after and aside from Mulligan's piano-less quartet with Chet Baker – the most visionary music he ever made. It eclipses his nonet recordings of the 1950s because of the sophisticated charts written by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and the writing Mulligan was doing formed the strength of this band – though this is not immediately apparent at the outset of Disc One. The set commences with a version of the band that included six brass, four reeds, Mulligan on baritone (and piano occasionally), bass, and drums.
Although an earlier CD added five previously unissued tracks to the original LP Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, this Verve Master Edition two-CD set adds just about everything else recorded during the two sessions that produced the original record, and also features 20-bit sound. Even though Gerry Mulligan was outspoken against issuing material omitted from his original recordings, it is a treat to hear how the songs evolved in the studio. Webster and Mulligan seem mutually inspired throughout the sessions, and strong performances by pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Mel Lewis are of considerable help.