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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GENE KRUPA

Plays Gerry Mulligan Arrangements

American Jazz Classics 99020

 

 


1. Bird House
2. Margie
3. Mulligan Stew
4. Begin the Beguine
5. Sugar
6. The Way of all Flesh
7. Disc Jockey Jump
8. Birds of a Feather
9. Sometimes I'm Happy
10. How High the Moon
11. If You Were the Only Girl
12.Yardbird Suite
13. Indiana
14. Begin the Beguine
15. Bird House
16. How High the Moon
17. Disc Jockey Jump
18. Margie

Tracks 1-12
Al DeRisi, Ernie Royal, Doc Severinsen, Al Stewart - Trumpets
Jimmy Cleveland, Kai Winding - Trombones
Sam Marowitiz, Phil Woods - Alto saxes
Frank Socolow, Eddie Wasserman - Tenor saxes
Danny Bank - Baritone sax
Hank Jones - Piano
Barry Galbriath - Guitar
Jimmy Gannon - Bass
Gene Krupa - Drums
Gerry Mulligan - Arranger, conductor
Tracks 1-3, 12
Eddie Bert, Billy Byers - trombones
Tracks 4-11
Marky Markowitz - Trumpet
Willie Dennis, Urbie Green - Trombones
Tracks 13-15
Red Rodney, Joe Triscari, Ray Triscari, Jimmy Milazzo - Trumpets
Bob Ascher, Dick Taylor, Nick Gaglio, Tasso Harris - Trombones
Harry Terrill, Charlie Kennedy - Alto saxes
Charlie Ventura, Buddy Wise - Tenor saxes
Joe Koch - Baritone sax
Teddy Napoleon - Piano
Mike Triscari - Guitar
Irv Lang - Bass
Gene Krupa, Joe Dale - Drums
Track 16
Red Rodney, Joe Triscari, Ray Triscari, Tony Anelli - Trumpets
Bob Ascher, Dick Taylor, Warren Covington, Ben Seaman - Trombones
Harry Terrill, Charlie Kennedy - Alto saxes
Charlie Ventura, Buddy Wise - Tenor saxes
Jack Schwartz - Baritone sax
Teddy Napoleon - Piano
Hy White - Guitar
Bob Munoz - Bass
Gene Krupa, Joe Dale - Drums
Bob Strahl - Bongoes
Tracks 17-18
Don Fagerquist, Ray Triscari, Ed Badgley, Tony Anelli - Trumpets
Clay Hervey, Dick Taylor, Emil Mazanec, Jack Zimmerman - Trombones
Harry Terrill, Charlie Kennedy - Alto saxes
Buddy Wise, Mitch Melnick - Tenor saxes
Jack Schwartz - Baritone sax
Buddy Neal - Piano
Bob Lesher - Guitar
Bob Strahl - Bass
Gene Krupa, Joe Dale - Drums

 

Gerry Mulligan might be regarded as part of the "cool school", having been involved in the famous Birth of the Cool sessions and then forming his own pianoless quartet, whose approach could well be described as "cool". However, before this, he had joined Gene Krupa's big band in 1946 and stayed for a year, playing various saxes and writing compositions as well as arrangements for the band. One of these pieces - Disc Jockey Jump - attracted attention to Mulligan, who was barely out of his teens.

In 1958, Gene Krupa got his band to record some of Mulligan's arrangements for this album. It may seem strange for a "cool" musician to write arrangements for a big band led by one of the most extrovert show drummers. Yet the tunes betray many aspects of Gerry's coolness, and Krupa doesn't get a huge chance to show off his drum skills. Disc Jockey Jump actually spotlights the drums in the midst of an arrangement which stresses bebop elements.

The bebop influence is not apparent in every track - indeed, some of the arrangements are rather conventional, although Mulligan was obviously aiming at a more restrained style than Krupa sometimes displayed. Mulligan also leaves plenty of room for some exceptional solos from such brilliant players as altoist Phil Woods (glorious in Birds of a Feather). Sadly, the soloists are not identified in the extensive sleeve-notes.

The last six tracks augment the original album with the rest of Gene Krupa's studio recordings of Mulligan arrangements. These date from 1946 and 1947, although Mulligan is not listed among the personnel at this period. Apart from Indiana, these are all alternate versions of tunes which were on the original LP. The unmistakable sound of tenorist Charlie Ventura and pianist Teddy Napoleon can be savoured on Indiana. Begin the Beguine is forever associated with clarinettist Artie Shaw but here a Tommy Dorsey-like trombone states the melody.

It is interesting to hear these Mulligan arrangements, yet I still prefer the more exciting Krupa big-band tracks like Leave Us Leap and Lemon Drop. After all, if you want to hear a band led by a stimulating drummer like Krupa, you want it to convey the thrill of its leader, as Buddy Rich ensured when he hired arrangers for his big band of the 1960s.

Incidentally, as a member of the Delius Society, I was pleased to see a reference in the sleeve-notes to a 1969 interview with Gerry Mulligan about Gene Krupa, in which Gerry said: "Gene's first love was Delius. He loved Delius, and we'd spend a lot of time listening to that music". Perhaps that throws some different light on the drummer who is sometimes dismissed as a gum-chewing showman.

Tony Augarde



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