The Gerry Mulligan Quartet: Zurich 1962
Another entry in TCB’s Swiss Radio Days series of concert performances by well–known Jazz artists, many of them from the U.S., taped for broadcast on Swiss Radio. For this date at Zurich’s Kongresshaus in October ’62, baritone maestro Gerry Mulligan’s quartet included young valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer (now a 71–year–old elder statesman), bassist (and more recently best–selling author) Bill Crow and drummer Gus Johnson who passed away in February 2000. Although Mulligan’s quartets were for the most part pianoless, Brookmeyer makes the keyboard sing on “Subterranean Blues” and Gerry does likewise on “Spring Is Sprung” and “Darn That Dream.” After the brief theme (“Utter Chaos”) and introductions (today’s petulant headliners could benefit greatly by adopting Gerry’s sunny demeanor), the recording opens with Brookmeyer’s lithe swinger, “Open Country” (which Gerry announces as “our third selection”). After a quartet of originals by Mulligan (“Love in New Orleans,” “Seventeen Mile Drive,” “Blues,” “Spring Is Sprung”) the group wraps things up with “Darn That Dream” and Art Farmer’s fugue–like “Blueport,” later to become an important part of the Mulligan Concert Jazz Band’s book. From its title, one may assume that “Blues” was taken from Mulligan’s score for the film The Subterraneans.
Be that as it may, drummer Johnson, using the brushes superbly, has great fun on that number trading fours with Gerry (on baritone), as he does with sticks (and Gerry at the piano) on the ebullient “Spring Is Sprung.” Johnson and Crow are the consummate back–up crew, so Gerry and Bob need never worry about catching them off–balance or out of sync. As for the front–liners, anyone who has heard Mulligan and / or Brookmeyer should be able to form in his / her mind’s eye a fairly accurate picture of what to expect. As is generally true of the Swiss Radio recordings, sound quality is splendid, especially for an early–’60s date, although the 53:30 playing time is on the skimpy side. A good concert, with energetic blowing by everyone, but not the sort to enfold tenderly in one’s album of memorable experiences.
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Track Listing: Utter Chaos and introductions; Open Country; Love in New Orleans; Seventeen Mile Drive; Subterranean Blues; Spring Is Sprung; Darn That Dream; Blueport (53:30).
Personnel: Gerry Mulligan, baritone sax, piano (6, 7); Bob Brookmeyer, valve trombone, piano; Bill Crow, bass; Gus Johnson, drums.
Record Label: TCB Music