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Anyone who's ever complained that so-called "cool jazz" artists don't know how to swing should check out this one from Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band. The 13-piece group was sure swinging hard one Sunday afternoon at the Village Vanguard in December 1960.
What sets this ensemble apart isn't so much the compositions (though they're a fine mix of standards and originals) or even the star quality of the soloists (though Mulligan, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer and others provide some memorable solo moments). The key is the cohesiveness of the band as a unit and the crisp, tight arrangements and orchestrations by Mulligan, Brookmeyer and Al Cohn. The bouncy, vibrant tone and sheer big band power on up-tempo numbers like Johnny Mandel's "Black Nightgown" and Cohn's "Lady Chatterly's Mother" evoke, perhaps oddly, the great Basie bands. Mulligan even takes an impressive turn at the piano to lead the group through the Basie-esque "Let My People Be". And familar ballads, like "Body and Soul" and "Come Rain or Come Shine", are given fresh treatments that evoke moods of tenderness and romance without being syrupy. Mulligan was no avant gardist, but he knew how to push the limits while working within a straight-ahead context, and he knew how to make a band swing.
Track Listing: 1. Blueport (Farmer) - 11:06
2. Body and Soul (Eyton/Green/Heyman/Sour) - 5:44
3. Black Nightgown (Mandel) - 4:10
4. Come Rain or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) - 5:35
5. Lady Chatterley's Mother (Cohn) - 6:14
6. Let My People Be (Mulligan) - 7:59
Personnel: Bob Brookmeyer - Arranger, Trombone (Valve)
Mel Lewis - Drums
Gerry Mulligan - Piano, Arranger, Saxophone, Sax (Baritone)
Willie Dennis - Trombone
Gene Quill - Clarinet, Sax (Alto)
Nick Travis - Trumpet
Al Cohn - Arranger
Clark Terry - Trumpet
Bill Crow - Bass
Bob Donovan - Sax (Alto)
Don Ferrara - Trumpet
Johnny Mandel - Arranger
Allen Ralph - Trombone
Jimmy Reider - Sax (Tenor)