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REASSESSING

Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious Monk: Mulligan Meets Monk

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Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious MonkMulligan Meets MonkOJC2013 (1957) The beauty of the Concord Music Group's treasure trove of a catalog is that it will always provide material for the “Reassessing" column at All About Jazz and similar columns elsewhere. The newest round of re-releases celebrate the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records. Riverside Records was founded by Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer in 1953, remaining a major force in jazz recording in New York City for a decade, when Grauer perished from a heart attack and the label declared bankruptcy. The catalog ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Verve Originals: Gato Barbieri / Paul Desmond / Gerry Mulligan / Wes Montgomery

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Verve's admirable, no frills, reissue series, “Originals," includes a mixture of masterpieces and also-rans from its own and its associated labels' archives. This trio of albums from the September 2009 batch includes one near masterpiece, saxophonist Gato Barbieri's Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata; an outstanding blowing session, saxophonists Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond's Blues In Time; and one career footnote, guitarist Wes Montgomery's Down Here On The Ground.

Gato Barbieri Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata Impulse! 2009 (1974)

The fiery going on incantatory Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata was the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan: Live at MCG

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The typical jazz listener easily tires of hearing standards covered by newer artists. However, it's occasionally good to hear the masters revisit some of these old compositions--a way of staying connected. Jazz legends Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan have done that with Live at MCG. The Manchester Craftsmen's Guild is a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh, USA whose mission is to preserve, present and promote jazz. In doing so, MCG brings in artists such as Taylor and Mulligan to entertain and educate the jazz public. Taylor is a pianist, composer, teacher, lecturer, radio and television personality, recording artist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Taylor and Gerry Mulligan: Live at MCG

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Dr. Billy Taylor has spent so much of the latter part of his nearly sixty-year career in jazz as an educator and broadcaster that it's easy to forget what a brilliant pianist he is. This splendid 1993 date, billed as his first-ever performance with the late baritone sax legend Gerry Mulligan, should serve as a reminder of Taylor's often overlooked talents--as well as a valuable addition to Mulligan's legacy. The album features the two veterans, Taylor, then seventy-two and Mulligan, sixty-six, in a live recording culled from a series of shows at Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Gerry Mulligan: Mosaic Select 21

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Gerry Mulligan Mosaic Select 21 Mosaic Records 2006

Gerry Mulligan is one of the greatest baritone saxophonists in the history of jazz, with a truly remarkable tone, sense of phrasing, and creativity. It's easy to overlook Mulligan's composing and arranging talents, but they too are of the highest caliber. This three-disc set offers several excellent examples of Mulligan's playing and writing skills.

These sessions, mainly from December of 1957, prove that Mulligan was willing to showcase his talents in a wide variety of settings--from his quartet to an all-star nonet (with an eye-popping lineup ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan/Thelonious Monk: Mulligan Meets Monk

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Mulligan and Monk: what is their common ground? Certainly not the “Cool School West Coast pianoless groups of Mulligan and Baker. Nor do you think of the Lester Young-influenced Mulligan in the same sphere (pun intended) as some of Monk's preeminent sax players, like Johnny Griffin or John Coltrane.Perhaps it is their mutual love for the Swing Era. Tunes on Mulligan Meets Monk like “Sweet and Lovely and Mulligan's “Decidedly (based on Charlie Shavers' “Undecided ) are where they both really hook up and yet thrive in their own unique way. For instance, pianist Monk's chordal solo on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mel Torm/Gerry Mulligan/George Shearing: The Classic Concert Live

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Back in '82 when this concert was recorded at Carnegie Hall, Mel Tormé was just starting his vocal ascent out of a slump by beginning a long and fruitful musical friendship with pianist George Shearing. Joined with Gerry Mulligan's big band, Tormé is in excellent form as he swings through an enthusiastic set of standards, bebop, and Ellingtonia.

This recording is quite important because it fills in gaps in each of the headliners' respective careers. Mulligan produced only one other recording that year (a soundtrack for a French film), and Shearing essentially had only his first duet with Tormé to ...

NOT FOR SALE

Mel Torm, Gerry Mulligan & George Shearing at Carnegie Hall 1982

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When I first conceived this column, one of the first programs that I intended to cover was one of my favorite concert broadcasts, a joint appearance by Mel Tormé, Gerry Mulligan and George Shearing on stage at Carnegie Hall in 1982. Impresario George Wein was responsible for encouraging the three men to perform together for the first time (though Tormé had performed separately with Mulligan and Shearing prior to this evening) and the concert was obviously a treat for those present. One of the running gags of the evening was their frequent reference to themselves as “The Terrible Trio," a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan/Thelonious Monk: Mulligan Meets Monk

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Mulligan Meets Monk captures one of the most improbable encounters in jazz, one artist the standard bearer for the conservative cool school, the other a peddler of a more liberal style of jazz. Both were mavericks in their own way, and there’s an interesting symmetry in their approaches: Mulligan exploring the freedom available without a piano, Monk delving into new territory with one. However, the real appeal of the session is the “will this work, or won’t it?” quality that the encounter promises, and one can’t be blamed for assuming that it is Mulligan that must rise to the occasion ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band: Gerry Mulligan at the Village Vanguard

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan Quartets: In Concert

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Gerry Mulligan’s pianoless quartet with Chet Baker is commonly cited as an early artistic apogee in the careers of both its frontline participants. Less widely lauded, Mulligan’s other quartet with valve trombonist/pianist Bob Brookmeyer, which followed on the heels of the Baker association, was every bit as creatively prosperous and this pair of concerts reissued by Pablo paints their sonic portrait in bold colors.

Both engagements were Norman Granz productions as part of his widely popular Jazz At the Philharmonic enterprise (hence their Pablo pedigree) and the promoter; ever the impresario includes his spoken introductions as a preface to each ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet: Zurich 1962

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band: Zurich 1960

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As record bins aren’t exactly overflowing with recordings by Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, almost any new evidence of the ensemble’s remarkable prowess is welcome, even if playing time isn’t overly generous, recording quality is uneven, the choice of material prosaic, and the album’s subtitle, “featuring Zoot Sims,” alludes to only two tracks. If that sounds like a pan, it isn’t. Even when reciting tunes they could probably have played in their sleep, Mulligan’s sidemen were consistently awe–inspiring, an impression that is reinforced time and again during this exuberant concert date taped more than 40 years ago for broadcast on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerry Mulligan: The Art Of Gerry Mulligan: The Final Recordings

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Five years after his last album was recorded, Gerry Mulligan’s sound once again is being released by Telarc Jazz on a compilation of re-releases from his last albums. The Art Of Gerry Mulligan: The Final Recordings not only shows that Mulligan’s unparalleled talent for accessible improvisation remained intact, even as his health declined, but also suggests that his wide range of creative interests remained unpredictable.Musically curious throughout his lifetime, Mulligan didn’t find comfort in a niche from which he wouldn’t budge, as less imaginative artists sometimes do. Instead, he continued to explore alternative forms, as the three albums ...



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