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.
Following the premiere performance of Handel's opera "Sosarme, re di Media" on 15 February 1732, Viscount Percival remarked that, the work is well received in the city, and quite rightly so, for it is one of the best I have ever heard. The intrigue-laced plot goes back to 14th century historical events, when a dispute about succession broke out between King Dionysius (Denis), his son Alfonso and King Ferdinand IV of Castile. Following the last performance of Sosarme in 1734, the work slumbered for some two hundred years until British composer, conductor and musicologist Anthony Lewis revived Handel's composition in 1954. This recording, featuring the St. Anthony Singers and St. Cecilia Orchestra and conducted by Lewis, vouches for historical authenticity last but not least thanks to an ensemble of singers well-versed in Handel's works, including counter-tenor Alfred Deller and contralto Helen Watts.
Helen Merrill's first American record since 1968 (she had spent much time in Japan) is mostly a duet set with pianist John Lewis; three songs also have flutist Hubert Laws, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Connie Kay. The emphasis is on ballads, with all of the nine songs (other than the pianist's "The Singer") being quite well-known. The obvious empathy between Merrill and Lewis is well displayed on such numbers as "Django" (which has rarely been sung), "Angel Eyes," "Alone Together" and "Mad About the Boy." An introspective set full of subtle creativity.
Essence, released in 1962, allows space for improvising around the charts provided by vibraphonist Gary McFarland. Arranged by Lewis, it featuring an array of jazz greats including Eric Dolphy, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Jimmy Giuffre, and Jim Hall.