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Gerry MULLIGAN & Chet BAKER – The Original Quartet with Chet Baker 1953

Posted in Chet BAKER, Gerry MULLIGAN, JAZZ on November 29, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Gerry MULLIGAN & Chet BAKER – The Original Quartet with Chet Baker 1953
Recorded in Los Angeles, California between 1952 & 1953
1998 Issue.


This release presents the complete master takes by Gerry Mulligan’s original 1952-53 piano-less quartet with Chet Baker. These legendary recordings -producer Dick Bock originally started his label specifically to record the popular Gerry Mulligan Quartet- would prove enormously influential and set the groundwork for many other groups. However, Mulligan and Baker’s paths would separate afterward and they would not record more than a couple of albums together.

All of their recordings together from that period are on this 2-CD set, with the sole exception of five alternate takes that didn’t fit due to time limitations.
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet was not only a groundbreaking pianoless group, featuring baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and trumpeter Chet Baker with a bassist and drummer, but the band also helped to launch Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label.

Their unique approach to music came to be labeled as “cool” or West Coast jazz, relying on intricate improvisations, with Mulligan’s inventive, lyrical baritone being well complemented by Baker, an unschooled player who possessed a gift for playing by ear. Bassists Bobby Whitlock and Carson Smith, along with drummers Chico Hamilton or Larry Bunker, round out the group. There are numerous highlights within this volume, the standout tracks include Mulligan’s loping “Walking Shoes” (which he returned to throughout the remaining four-plus decades of his career), along with the group’s peppy rendition of “Bernie’s Tune.” A remake of the baritone saxophonist’s “Jeru” (recorded previously during the nonet sessions which were eventually gathered for Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool album) and the landmark treatment of “My Funny Valentine,” a standard that would remain a key part of Baker’s repertoire for the remainder of his life.

Although this music was reissued several times, including in an extensive boxed set by Mosaic and the later The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker, this edition, like the earlier bigger collections, is already an out of print collectible fetching a premium price. This important release are particularly noteworthy and should be considered essential for anyone interested in West Coast jazz.
Ken Dryden. All Music Guide
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet, though only together for eleven months or so, produced some of the best postwar jazz of the day, despite the occasional insults from jazz journalists and bebop loyalists. This set contains pretty much everything. It’s a streamlined econo-buy of the excellent Complete Recordings 4-CD set that came out two or three years ago (and when they said “Limited Edition”, they meant it; it was out of print in a matter of months). Although the packaging of this product leaves much to be desired, especially when compared to the gorgeous 4-CD set, it contains all of the same tracks sans the outtakes, Mulligan and Baker’s REUNION album, and the sessions they cut playing back-up for Annie Ross (now finally available as a Japanese import entitled ANNIE ROSS SINGS A SONG WITH MULLIGAN). Much has been written on the genesis behind Mulligan’s founding of his “pianoless” quartet and their early gigs at the Haig, but these recordings speak for themselves. After some mediocre demos, which show Mulligan still struggling with the absence of the piano’s harmony, the quartet hits perfection with “Bernie’s Tune”, soon followed by “Nights at the Turntable”, “Swinghouse”, “Freeway” and “Walkin’ Shoes”. This is Chet Baker at his early creative peak, before the drugs and vocal sessions kicked-in, and, until his later days, he rarely hit such heights again. The lyrical counterpoints he and Mulligan engage in are as hypnotizing as they are subtle. Likewise, Chico Hamilton’s drumming is truly amazing, and why his subsequent Pacific Jazz recordings are not available domestically is beyond me. The entire band fits together like a tight machine, often rushing ahead full-force in a tone barely audible. Of course, if one is a purist and anal about maintaining the design and song structure of the original recording, as I am, then you ought to buy the Pacific Jazz Japanese import entitled simply THE GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET. This features not only 20-bit mapping, but also the original cover art, an overhead photograph of the band taken by William Claxton. I can’t imagine what Pacific was thinking when they opted for this new goofy collage over such a fantastic black-and-white photograph. But I digress–if you want quantity and don’t want to shuck out the bucks for an import, this is the disc for you.
By James Bunnelle.
Gerry Mulligan- (Baritone Sax, Piano);
Chet Baker- (Trumpet);
Jimmy Rowles- (Piano);
Red Mitchell, Joe Mondragon, Bob Whitlack, Carson Smith- (Bass);
Chico Hamilton, Larry Bunker- (Drums).
Cd 1:
01. Get Happy
02. ‘S Wonderful
03. Godchild
04. Dinah
05. She Didn’t Say Yes, She Didn’t Say No
06. Bernie’s Tune
07. Lullaby of the Leaves
08. Utter Chaos #1
09. Aren’t You Glad You’re You
10. Frenesi
11. Nights at the Turntable
12. Freeway
13. Soft Shoe
14. Walking Shoes
15. Aren’t You Glad You’re You
16. Get Happy
17. Poinciana
18. Godchild
19. Makin’ Whoopee
20. Cherry
21. Motel
22. Carson City Stage

Cd 2:
01. My Old Flame
02. Love Me or Leave Me (alternate take)
03. Love Me or Leave Me
04. Swinghouse (10″ LP Take)
05. Swinghouse (12″ LP Take)
06. Jeru
07. Utter Chaos #2
08. Darn That Dream
09. Darn That Dream (alternate take)
10. I May Be Wrong (12″ LP Take)
11. I May Be Wrong (10″ LP Take)
12. I’m Beginning to See the Light (10″ LP Take)
13. I’m Beginning to See the Light (12″ LP Take)
14. The Nearness of You
15. Tea for Two
16. Five Brothers
17. I Can’t Get Started
18. Ide’s Side
19. Funhouse
20. My Funny Valentine

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