With this piece, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles begins a multi-part feature on composer, arranger, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan that will culminate in Part 5: Gerry Mulligan -The
Given the magnitude of the footprint that he left upon the music, it is almost as impossible to assess Gerry Mulligan’s role in the development
of modern Jazz in the second half of the 20th century as it is to underestimate it.
World Club Record" TP 351
Those who saw much of Gerry Mulligan during his 1963 visit to
Mulligan's own Bird house and Birds of a feather, and Yardbird suite by Parker himself, are Gerry's ample tribute to Charlie Parker. How high the moon, a number written by Morgan Lewis and Nancy Hamilton in 1940, had an uncanny fascination for the early modernists, who made it their own much as the jam sessioneers had once appropriated Honeysuckle rose and the revivalists were to latch onto The Saints. Margie by Con Conrad and J. Russell Robinson. is a standard dating from 1920. Mulligan stew is Gerry's tune but somebody else's title; he is said to have vowed thereafter never again to leave the choice of a name to another. Begin the beguine is Cole Porter's classic from the 1935 show 'Jubilee'. The way of all flesh was simply adopted as a title at about the time Mulligan was reading Samuel Butler's novel. Sometimes I'm happy V is one of the incredibly simple but highly effective numbers that came so readily to Vincent Youmans. It was in a 1927 musical called `Hit the Deck'.
For reasons that are detailed in Nat Hentoff’s The White Mainstreamer chapter from his work Jazz Is and which will be included in its entirety later in Part 3 of this feature, Mulligan was fired off the Krupa band and next began arranging for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, occasionally sitting in as a member of the reed section.
"In 1947-48, when Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan wrote arrangements for the Claude Thornhill band, the jazz-oriented instrumentals swung without shouting, and hinted at a bebop equivalent of early Count Basle and Lester Young, and It was those arrangements that inspired Miles Davis to have Evans and Mulligan create a nine-piece version of the same sound, known retrospectively as the 'Birth of the Cool' band. But Thornhill was not just historically significant, the original performances of his band stand up In their own right and are still as fresh as the day they were recorded."- BRIAN PRIESTLEY
Unfortunately, the 1948 recording ban imposed by the James Petrillo, President of the American Federation of Musicians, prevented
Gerry had this to say about his experience with Claude:
When asked to compare Claude Thornhill to Stan Kenton, Gerry observed:
George Russell, our resident innovator. (Wrote a couple of fine, interesting charts for Claude Thornhill's band that I suppose there's no trace of now.)
John Benson Brooks, our dreamer of impossible dreams.