Street Date March 27, 2012
Another stellar recording from the newly formed JazzHaus records finds the Gerry Mulligan sextet live at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart Germany on November 22, 1977. Mulligan was now fifty and looking back at a career spanning close to 30 years. For those unfamiliar Mulligan worked on the revolutionary Birth of the Cool in 1948. Mulligan debuted as a leader in 1951 and moved to Los Angeles to arrange for the Stan Kenton Big Band. Mulligan along with Chet Baker formed a immensely popular piano free quartet and was instrumental in yet another sub-genre in the jazz family tree known as West Coast Jazz. Gerry Mulligan was not particularly fond of the label often maintaining his bands would have been successful anywhere.
Fast forward to a hand picked sextet including up and coming vibraphonist Dave Samuels ( Spyro Gyra and Caribbean Jazz Project ) and you have one of the finer large ensembles playing with inspired elegance and flair. While Mulligan was never one to turn his back on the famous cool jazz sound, there was an unquestionable contemporary sound developing with this particular ensemble. "My Funny Valentine" is delivered with a soulful elegance and a wistful melancholy that is simply classic Mulligan. The lyrically driven solo from Mulligan is stunning in simplicity. "Satin Doll" swings with an understated groove that borders on the infectious. Clearly this is Mulligan at home in his own element while the sextet shifts dynamics on the fly and function as a true working band. "K-4 Pacific" is a Mulligan tune that closes a special night where old school is indeed new cool. With "K-4 Pacific" the sextet begins to stretch out and perform their own sonic exploratory while Mulligan pushes his improvisational skills to their limit.
A must for any Gerry Mulligan fan and a live recording as well done as any found in his discography. The JazzHaus label has painstakingly gone through archives from live radio and television recordings made in southwest Germany with the Mulligan performance at Liderhalle easily one of the very finest.
Tracks: For An Unfinished Woman; Line For Lyons; My Funny Valentine; Idol Gossip; Out Back Of The Barn; Night Lights; Song For Strayhorn; Satin Doll; K-4 Pacific.
Personnel: Gerry Mulligan: baritone saxophone; Dave Samuels: vibraphone; Thomas Fay: piano; Mike Santiago: guitar; George Duvivier: bass; Bobby Rosengarden: drums.