Friday, November 25, 2005

CD review - Jerry Mulligan - Jeru

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Currently yanked from stores since it contains the XCP spyware, Gerry Mulligan's 1962 recording of Jeru is 7 tracks of fairly laid back, bouncy jazz. Jeru, a nickname given to him by Miles Davis, came together when drummer Dave Bailey, a member of Mulligan's quartet, suggested that Mulligan (1927 - 1996) didn't play enough ballads.

Mulligan first gained international reknown as a member of Miles Davis'(1926 - 1991) group that recorded Birth of the Cool in 1949-50, an early ground breaking album. Later on, he hooked up with trumpeter Chet Baker (1929 - 1988)and the touring group was unique in that they did not feature a pianist. This innovative group became famous and Baker and Mulligan became dominant players of what became known as the "West Coast Sound." He's played with many of the all-time greats, inlcuding Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Jack Teagarden, Dave Brubeck, and Billie Holliday and has won countless awards and accolades as the number saxophone player in the world.

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The playing is superb, if not a tad relaxed for my tastes. The sound quality is suprsingly good for a 43 year-old recording. The only disappointment here is the length of the CD, 36 minutes and change. This is less than half of the capacity of a CD. You would think Sony could have added some bonus tracks.

Jeru doesn't light my fire with it's seemingly simple performances, but I can appreciate the overall results. I wish there was some more fire in the belly of these players, though. Several of these tracks did go on to become staples in Mulligan's live show, which is a testament to their quality.

The band:
Gerry Mulligan - baritone sax
Tommy Flanagan - piano
Ben Tucker - bass
Dave Bailey - drums
Alec Dorsey - conga drums

1. "Capricious" (Billy Taylor)
2. "Here I'll Stay" (Alan Jay Lerner - Kurt Weill)
3. "Inside Impromtu" (Billy Taylor)
4. "You've Come Home" (Carolyn Leigh - Cy Coleman)
5. "Get Out Of Town" (Cole Porter)
6. "Blue Boy" (Gerry Mulligan)
7. "Lonely Town" (Betty Comden - Adolph Green - Leornard Bernstein)

Total time - 36:23
Recorded June 30, 1962, New York City.

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