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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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Lonesome Boulevard

A&M 75021-5326-2



1. Rico Apollo
2. I Heard the Shadows Dancing
3. Lonesome Boulevard
4. Curtains
5. Ring around a Bright Star
6. Splendor in the Grass
7. Good Neighbor Thelonious
8. Wallflower
9. The Flying Scotsman
10. Etude for Franca

Gerry Mulligan - Baritone sax
Bill Charlap – Piano
Dean Johnson – Bass
Richie De Rosa – Drums


In 1952 Gerry Mulligan first came into jazz prominence as the leader of an interesting “pianoless” quartet, which distinguished the aggregation from virtually all other groups of the period. At the time, Mulligan explained the omission of the piano as “allowing greater imaginative freedom” to the players. Over the years, through various iterations of the quartet, his sextet, and even the Concert Jazz Band, he often used the “pianoless” format.

Now some four decades later, having solidified his position as the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz history, Mulligan transformed himself from the gruff, extroverted, linear musician into a refined, less experimental player. He was happy to use the chord-feeding orchestral capabilities of the piano to support his solo efforts. Lonesome Boulevard which was originally issued in 1990 and now re-released as part of the Verve Originals series, showcases Mulligan primarily in a collection of his own tunes. The exception is David Amram’s Splendor in the Grass which was originally part of the soundtrack for the 1961 movie of the same name.

From the Mulligan compositions, the set starts off with Rico Apollo, a samba-flavoured tune which dances along briskly. Never one to abandon his West Coast roots, Mulligan embraces both Lonesome Boulevard and Curtains with cool charm. The balance of the disc is divided between a little bop opus called The Flying Scotsman, a moody Ellingtonian styled ballad Wallflower, and an upper register Ring around a Bright Star. Mulligan did not forget his ties to Thelonious Monk with a playful Good Neighbor Thelonious. The set concludes with Etude for Franca which was written for his wife.

It would be appropriate at this point to say a few words about the young Bill Charlap (23 at the time of this recording) on piano. This was the album that introduced him to the jazz world and he proved to be the perfect accompanist for Mulligan. Never obtrusive, his tasteful chording behind Mulligan’s solos provided the perfect underpinnings to those efforts. Charlap has gone on to greater acclaim and has assumed the mantle of the interpreter of the Great American Songbook that had previously been the domain of the current elder statesman of the piano Hank Jones and the late Tommy Flanagan.

Finally, Verve Records and the Universal Music Group have done a fine job with this reissue, although I have one complaint. If UMG are going to go to the time and expense of a reissue, they should ensure that the liner notes are up to scratch. In this case they have overlooked the misspelling of one of Mulligan’s previous pianists, namely Bill Mays. In one section of the notes the name is spelled Bill Mayes and in another Billy Mayes (sic). This is a minor point but annoying nevertheless.

Pierre Giroux

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