Mulligan’s Birthday

Thanks to Rifftides reader Hal Strack for the reminder that this is Gerry Mulligan’s birthday. Mulligan would be 85. Here is the baritone saxophonist, composer, arranger and pianist at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 with a great edition of his quartet: Art Farmer, trumpet; Bill Crow, bass; Dave Bailey drums. They played Mulligan’s “As Catch Can.” The video is a clip from Bert Stern’s film Jazz On A Summer’s Day.

The closing announcement was by the Voice Of America’s Willis Conover.

Gerry Mulligan died in January of 1996.

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Comments

  1. Frank Roellinger says

    Hi Doug, Thanks for the post. I think this was the best pianoless quartet Gerry ever had. The movie was one of the things that first kindled my interest in jazz when I saw it in 1960. For years I wanted to see it again, but never had the chance until 1983, when I drove 90 miles one way just to view it. Now, of course, I have it on DVD. It’s great, but a bit sad when one realizes that it easily could have been a lot better. As I recall, Bert Stern said something to the effect that he didn’t much like modern jazz, considered Miles Davis too far out. (!)

  2. says

    It could have been better, but not so easily… the Festival only allowed two camera locations, and the only movement available was through zooming and panning. Bert Stern had little to do with the actual filming… it was shot and edited by Aram Avakian (George’s late brother). Since there were no lights on the audience after dark, Aram couldn’t get any audience reaction shots, so he threw a party a few weeks after the festival, showed the rushes to the attendees, and filmed their reactions.

  3. Hal Strack says

    GERRY MULLIGAN WAS STRICTLY IN A CLASS ALL BY HIMSELF ON BARITONE., IN MY OPINION. SERGE CHALOFF IS THE ONLY PERSON THAT I THOUGHT EVEN APROACHED HIM. SOMETHING THAT HAS LONG FASCINATED ME IS THE REMARKABLE AFFINITY THAT HE AND PAUL DESMOND HAD FOR EACH OTHER, PERSONALLY AND IN THEIR PLAYING. EXCEPT FOR THE DIFFERENCE IN PITCH AND THE SOUND OF THEIR RESPECTIVE HORNS, MUSICAL CONCEPTION WAS VERY SIMILAR. iN THAT RESPECT THEY WERE TRULY “TWO OF A MIND”. OF COURSE, THEIR LYRICISM WAS GREATLY INFLUENCED BY ARTIE SHAW, AS WAS THE APPROACH OF TENORMAN SAM DONAHUE. PAUL TOLD ME THAT WHEN GERRY WOULD VISIT HIM AT HIS NEW YORK APARTMENT, HE WOULD INVARIABLY TAKE HIS BUFFET CLARINET OUT OF THE CASE, PUT IT TOGETHER, AND PROCEED TO PLAY ARTIE’S CHORUS ON STARDUST. ALTHOUGH THEIR RECORDINGS WERE PIANO-LESS, AND MANY OF GERRY’S WERE THE SAME, HE ALSO ADJUSTED REMARKABLY WELL TO PIANIST DAVE BRUBECK’S FORMAT, AS HAD PAUL. THEY WERE MUSICAL GIANTS NOT SOON TO BE REPLICATED. BUT AT LEAST WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE MUCH IN THE WAY OF RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THEIR “MIND NUMBING” CREATIVE PROWESS. THEY HAVE LEFT A WONDERFUL MUSICAL LEGACY FOR ALL TIME.