It’s Gerry Mulligan’s Birthday

Mulligan VienneTo compensate for lateness in posting a birthday tribute to Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996), the Rifftides staff is pleased to bring you videos of Mulligan from three stages of his career.

First, we find him at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 with his quartet; Mulligan, baritone saxophone; Art Farmer, trumpet; Bill Crow, bass. This seems to be a clip from Bert Stern’s film Jazz on a Summer’s Day. The closing announcement is by Gerry’s friend Willis Conover of the Voice of America. The piece is “As Catch Can.”

In the early 1960s, bossa nova was becoming an important element in jazz and popular music in the United States. One of its founding fathers, Antonio Carlos Jobim, spent a fair amount of time in this country. He visited Mulligan in his apartment in New York and gave him a lesson in phrasing Brazilian rhythm

In 1992, Mulligan took an edition of his tentet to the Vienna Festival in France. Farmer was with him, along with Lee Konitz, Rob McConnell, Michael Phillip Mossman, Kenny Soderblum, Bob Routch, Bill Barber, Ted Rosenthal, Dean Johnson and Ron Vincent. Ignore the “Lee Konitz” super over a shot of Farmer soloing. A superimposed crawl at the end identifies everyone and his instrument. The composition is by one of Gerry’s heroes. Konitz copiously alludes to other Ellington pieces.

We’re missing Mulligan.

Have a good weekend.

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  1. Charlton Price says

    Jeru & Company….This is what ir’s all about.!

    Doug: Please give us more such career sweeps, as an occasion warrants it, or as the spirit moves.

    Imperishable moments from the Golden Age….

    Thank you.

  2. says

    It’s always wonderful to see and hear Jeru, but added to that was the pleasure of seeing and hearing Bill Crow in full groove. The Jobim episode I’ve seen before, but it’s good to see and hear their mutual humility. The last item was new to me, and especially because for twenty years we have holidayed in Provence and driven past Vienne out and in, but always in May/June, too early for the jazz festival.

    Thank you Doug.

  3. Terence Smith says

    Yes, thank you Doug Ramsey. As Brian Hope states above, it is good to see and hear Bill Crow ( with Dave Bailey playing drums also?) in full swing. After hearing this again, I had to recheck Bill Crow’s memoir, “From Birdland to Broadway” to be sure of something, and there it is on page 164. He got the call to join the Mulligan Quartet that July 1958, and he remembers:

    “We just had time for one rehearsal before our first appearance at Newport.”

    Gerry Mulligan had good taste in just about everything.

    PS Crow’s immediate predecessors in the Mulligan Quartet bass chair were Henry Grimes and Joe Benjamin.

    • Terence Smith says

      While we are on the subject of Crow, I would like to plug Bill Crow’s books, just because I have got such a kick out of them. Crow may just be as adept with verbal lines as he is with bass lines.

      For an example: In From Birdland to Broadway, Crow recounts a convivial 1957 evening at his NYC apartment with Jim Hall and the other members of the Jimmy Guiffre Trio. He and Bob Brookmeyer were taking turns making Jim Hall more and more convulsive with laughter, until a culminating Bill Crow one-liner actually convulsed Hall into a hospital emergency room (dislocated shoulder, from laughing!), and some difficulties at a recording session the next day. Crow ruefully notes:

      “Since then, I’ve been careful not to be that funny around Jim Hall.”

      But Crow’s Jazz Anecdotes (1991) come in all hues of wisdom, insight, and humor. Including some funny enough to possibly cause physical injury. Read with care!

      PS – Both of his books are rife with Gerry Mulligan anecdotes. One of my favorites is when Gerry, “feeling that our quartet needed some fresh ideas,” invited Thelonious Monk to one of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet’s rehearsals.