Gerry Mulligan Plays Mulligan - JazzWax

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May 25, 2011


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Bill Forbes

Interesting analysis of this often ignored session, Marc. I shall listen to my copy with fresh ears!

Bill Kirchner

Nice stuff! Gerry later rewrote "Mullenium" yet again for an unfinished 1957 big band date for Columbia (most recently reissued on CD as "Mullenium," Columbia/Legacy--liner notes by moi).

Also, he wrote 10 charts for Kenton, half of which were "dance charts," including "All The Things You Are," which he also rewrote for the Columbia session. Others were "Young Blood," "Swing House," "Limelight," "Bweebida Bobbida," and "Walkin' Shoes". The first three were recorded by Kenton for Capitol; the last two are available as airchecks and later became Mulligan staples.


I also found this interesting and will listen to my copy again in the near future. Hard to believe it was recorded in 1951. Albums were a new thing then!

Alan Kurtz

I'd vote against girlfriends playing maracas on jazz recordings.

Gail Madden's "light maracas," writes Marc, "offer a quaint, beat touch that works throughout the album like an eternal high hat." To my ear, the effect is like an infernal spilling of sunflower seeds.

In 1950s jazz drumming, the high hat was a precision instrument, crisply emphasizing beats 2 and 4 and doing much to provide a sense of swing. Gail Madden, by contrast, rattles her dried beans indistinctly, creating a continuous clutter that muddies the sense of swing.

Mulligan's subsequent quartet with Chet Baker sounded fresh largely due to its cleanliness, the result of omitting piano or other chordal instrument. And thank god he dispensed with Madden's maracas, which would've ruined one of the classic groups in modern jazz.

Finally, to say as Marc does that Mulligan's Prestige 10-tet date "was an equally important recording session" as Birth of the Cool and Gerry's August 1952 quartet sides with Chet, is egregious overstatement.

But then, nobody likes a naysayer. Do they? For jazz boosters, every recording is a masterpiece and anyone who dares say otherwise is a troll.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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