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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Crotchet

Gerry Mulligan

Midas Touch

Live in Berlin

Concord Jazz CCD-2169-2

 

 

 

  1. Out Back of the Barn
  2. Intro & Comments by Gerry Mulligan
  3. Wallflower
  4. Midas Lives
  5. Noblesse
  6. Sun on the Stairs
  7. Curtains
  8. Walkin’Shoes
  9. These Foolish Things

Gerry Mulligan – Baritone 1 to 9
Ted Rosenthal – Piano 1,3-8
Dean Johnson – Bass 1,3-8
Ron Vincent – Drums 1-3-8
Dave Brubeck – 9

This album was made on Gerry Mulligan’s last overseas tour in 1995; he died a year later. Surely one of the greatest of the jazz giants, his ability to make the largest of the commonly used saxophones sound easy to get round and his truly original ideas and tone marked him out amongst his piers. Apart from the last track, all the compositions are tunes that Mulligan has written at various times in his long and prolific career, The last track is a short duet with Dave Brubeck on piano on These Foolish Things, just why this happened is not spelt out on the sleeve.

The backing trio is superb throughout and well up to the standard required by an International genius of jazz, not only do they support Mulligan well in the ensembles, but each is a star soloist in his own right.

On a personal note, my liking for everything Gerry Mulligan did, is due to the timelessness of his improvisations and his ability to fit into any group of musicians. regardless of age or style. It was not that he stood still, he constantly searched out new ideas, but they are all delivered with a consistency unequalled by any one else in jazz.

The programme kicks off with an unusual blues composition Out Back of the Barn that is taken at a slightly faster tempo than I have heard previously. The next three tracks were new to me, but each interesting and well played by the whole quartet. Noblesse is a particularly attractive ballad. Sun on the Stairs is a tune I am familiar with. It is one of Mulligan’ best and a great favourite with audiences for his earlier larger band. Just listen to Mulligan’s first chorus, he comes out of the ensemble swinging like mad with the rhythm section just ticking away, but producing a great lift. This track contains a great deal of joy all the way through and would get my vote for the best track on an album where there are no poor tracks. Curtains is something completely different, beautifully played by the quartet now in much tenderer mood. Walkin’ Shoes was the natural encore being Mulligan’s most famous composition. The tune is not the easiest to play because of the unusual construction of the latter section. Other musicians rarely play it, perhaps for that reason, but the quartet give us a master class in how to perform it!

An essential album for the many people who like me both admired the man and his music. He has left a great-recorded legacy and this album complements it beautifully.

I’m still a bit mystified about the duet with Dave Brubeck, I know that Mulligan worked with Dave post Paul Desmond, but why did he appear on just one track on something that was obviously not rehearsed!

Don Mather

 



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