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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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Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1031



Tracks 1-6: `Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges'
1. Bunny
2. What's The Rush?
3. Back Beat
4. What It's All About?
5. 18 Carrots For Rabbit
6. Shady Side
Tracks 7-14: `What Is There To Say?'
7. What Is There To Say?
8. Just In Time
9. News From Blueport
10. Festive Minor
11. As Catch Can
12. My Funny Valentine
13. Blueport
14. Utter Chaos
Track 15: Gerry Mulligan Quartet at Storyville'
15. Rustic Hop

Tracks 1-6: `Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster'
1. Chelsea Bridge
2. The Cat Walk
3. Sunday
4. Who's Got Rhythm?
5. Tell Me When
6. Go Home
Tracks 7-13: `Gerry Mulligan Quartet At Storyville'
7. Bweebida Bobida
8. Birth Of The Blues
9. Baubles, Bangles And Beads
10. Open Country
11. Storyville Story
12. That Old Feeling
13. Bike Up The Strand / Utter Chaos

Gerry Mulligan - Baritone sax, piano with:
Tracks I/1-6
Johnny Hodges - Alto sax
Claude Williamson - Piano
Buddy Clark - Bass
Mel Lewis - Drums
Tracks I/7-14
Art Farmer - Trumpet
Bill Crow - Bass
Dave Bailey - Drums
Tracks I/15, II/7-13
Bob Brookmeyer - Valve trombone
Bill Crow - Bass
Dave Bailey - Drums
Tracks II/1-6
Ben Webster - Tenor sax
Jimmy Rowles - Piano
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Mel Lewis - Drums


This varied compilation is taken from four LPs which show Gerry Mulligan in several different contexts. On two LPs he is teamed with a great saxophonist: either altoist Johnny Hodges or tenorist Ben Webster. The other two LPs put him with pianoless quartets, but not his original quartet with Chet Baker. One album has trumpeter Art Farmer; the other has valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.

Gerry Mulligan fits in well with all these colleagues. His baritone sax blends beautifully with Hodges and Webster. With Johnny Hodges, Mulligan plays the baritone as if it were a tenor sax - not as deep as some baritone exponents. All the tunes on the first LP are by Mulligan or Hodges, with the two collaborating in writing What's The Rush?, a subdued ballad. Most of the pieces are simple blues sequences, which provide a good basis for relaxed improvisation. What's It All About? is a typical ambling Hodges number, while 18 Carrots For Rabbit is cheeringly sprightly. Mel Lewis plays some well-structured drum breaks on the latter although he is guilty of some annoying rimshot clicks on some earlier tracks.

Ben Webster's mellow tenor combines well with Mulligan, although Chelsea Bridge opens awkwardly with the baritone fluttering uncomfortably. Tell Me When displays Ben Webster's trademark switching between warmth and gutsiness. Versatile pianist Jimmy Rowles adds to the brightness of most tracks.

The pianoless quartets remind us of the glory days of the original Mulligan quartet, and Art Farmer and Bob Brookmeyer fill their roles proficiently. As with the original quartet, the two front men either play contrapuntally or one supplies backing for the other. The counterpoint is particularly effective with Brookmeyer, whose trombone somehow catches the Chet Baker spirit. On Storyville Story, Gerry switches to the piano to play an easygoing twelve-bar blues, with Brookmeyer joining in mid-stream.

Like most of these Avid reissues, this is a bargain - especially if you can get it at superbudget price. The remastering is as good as the music.

Tony Augarde

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