Gerry Mulligan + Concert Jazz Band 1960-1962: Live In Paris

The subtle mix of ensemble lines evident in Gerry Mulligan’s writing for Miles Davis’ nonet and his own tent is reflected in the CJB charts provided by his team of writers – Bob Brookmeyer, Al Cohn, Bill Holman and Johnny Mandel. Although rarely an active contributor to the project, he was mostly a supervisor, stating at the time: “My mark is on the group.” The 13 pieces, with its unique saxophone section of clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone, were light on its feet and able to sustain much of the delicate interaction that had been a hallmark of its small groups.

The group performed at 6 pm and midnight at the Olympia in Paris in November 1960. Gambit Records 69249 has already released the entire second concert as well as the 1962 quartet songs heard here on CD3. On this reissue, Frémeaux includes this material and CD1 opens with four tracks from the previous performance that have never been released before.

Utter Chaos briefly introduces the group. It’s reminiscent of Benny Goodman’s A Smo-o-oth One and had been Gerry’s theme song since 1952. You Took Advantage Of Me has a distinctively boastful statement from Brookmeyer, who wrote the arrangement. The frontman and Gene Quill inventively stretch out on Eighteen Carrots For Rabbit that Gerry wrote for Johnny Hodges. Mulligan’s idiosyncratic keyboard work is heard on Darn That Dream. What it lacks in technique is made up for by an abundance of ideas – the very definition of the arranger piano. The coda comes from Gerry’s 1950 painting for Miles Davis. Johnny Mandel adapted Barbara’s cute black nightgown and dark theme from his I want to live movie soundtrack. Don Ferrara in a mute cut is particularly impressive on the latter.

Gerry has always been an accomplished ballad player and Body And Soul is a particularly good example of his artistry. Zoot Sims makes a few guest appearances and Apple Core finds it in rare form. As always, he’s the epitome of swing, and his downtime blowing over copper punctures is a highlight here. On the penultimate chorus, he leads the saxophone section, creating a sound like the Four Brothers. Conte Candoli doesn’t have too much solo space but he has three nice choruses on Holman’s catchy I’m Gonna Go Fishin ‘. Another who didn’t really have enough to star in was the one-off Willie Dennis, who has a very satisfying Broadway outing.

The quartet titles feature the great Gus Johnson. Bill Crow told me that since Mel Lewis and Dave Bailey weren’t available, he recommended Johnson, who was working as a bank guard at the time. Pieces from the repertoire are performed with Subterranean Blues, of unusual provenance. It is based on the Gerry Things Are Looking Down solo from September 1959. Underground album he will resume two months later on For Bessie with Ben Webster.

CD1: (1) Total chaos; You took advantage of me; Eighteen carrots for rabbit; Damn that dream; You took advantage of me; black nightgown; Body and soul; Barbara’s theme; (2) Apple core; Come rain or come shine; (1) Out of this world; Spring has sprung (76.58)
CD2: My funny Valentine; I’m going to go fishing; Broadway; Bweebida Bobbida; (2) go home; (1) Blueport; Total Chaos (56.38)
CD3: (3) spring is triggered; five brothers; Underground blues; Damn that dream; Blueport; Total Chaos (45.22)
Mulligan (barre, p) with:
(1) Don Ferrara, Conte Candoli, Nick Travis

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Henry R. Wright

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