Gerry Mulligan – Big Band – Live At The North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague – July 16, 1982 – VPRO
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Gerry Mulligan this weekend. With big band, recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague on July 16, 1982 by VPRO in The Netherlands.
If there was no Gerry Mulligan would there be no Cool School of Jazz in the early 50’s? Good question – and I don’t want to speculate. Surely, things were heading in that direction, and Miles Davis’ Birth Of The Cool certainly made it official. But Mulligan’s tone and his approach (and being part of that session), not to mention his early career as an arranger and member of Claude Thornhill’s band, where the concept was “Play what you would normally play loud, only soft”, became the prototype for the movement. It was in direct contrast to much of what Bop was doing and an entire universe apart from what bands like Kenton’s were doing in the “new concepts’ department.
This was heady, luxuriant, expansive Jazz – music you listened to; not at, and it paved the way for the series of milestone Davis/Gil Evans collaborations (Evans and Mulligan were colleagues and part of the Thornhill organization early-on). Jazz has never looked back.
So Gerry Mulligan was an Elder Statesman – sadly, he left at age 68 with a lot more to say. I saw no evidence of him resting on his laurels. It was all about the journey and the exploration – and that beautiful, hypnotic tone that covered the proceedings like a warm blanket. As leader and arranger, Mulligan was a major force in Jazz. As a collaborator, his sessions are touchstones – I still consider his 1959 collaboration with Ben Webster (Webster meets Mulligan on Verve) to be one of the essential albums in every Jazz library.
So if you haven’t encountered the music of Gerry Mulligan, I urge you to go on an expedition – I believe all of this albums (and there’s a bunch) are reissued in one form or another. If you are familiar and are a fan – you’ve skipped all this anyway and headed straight to the player. At the end there is an interview with Gerry Mulligan that I left in. Announcements are in Dutch, but not a lot of announcing was going on (unlike some of our other European friends who just love to chat over music).
Hit Play and settle in.