Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gerry Mulligan Sextet: New Live Recordings

Gerry Mulligan Sextet: New Live Recordings ( English) Gerry Mulligan Sextet: Nieuwe Liveopnamen (Nederlands)
The Sextet Live in Amsterdam 1956.
Hans Koert
Gerry Mulligan is one of the greatest baritone saxophone players in jazz history. Okay, I know there are some more, like Harry Carney ( member of the Duke Ellington band), Serge Chaloff, Pepper Adams, Ronnie Cuber and Gary Smulyan ( to make an incomplete selection). He became famous, participating in the Birth of the Cool recordings and his piano less quartets, featuring Chet Baker. From mid 1953 until 1954 Mulligan served a prison sentence, due to a narcotics bust and when he was released Chet Baker had started his own band; his cooperation with Baker was over!
The Gerry Mulligan Sextet: f.l.t.r. Bob Brookmeyer - Gerry Mulligan - Bill Crow and Zoot Sims Amsterdam - Concertgebouw 8th of April 1956 ( photo courtesy Eddy Posthuma de Boer)
In December 1954 he introduced his first Western Reunion Sextet at the Hoover High School in Denver featuring Larry Bunker on drums,
Bob Brookmeyer on trombone, Jon Eardley on trumpet, Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone, Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone and Red Mitchell on bass. Thanks to the four horns, this band got a full band sound. The fact that he didn't use a piano in his quartets and sextets gave his groups an original and unique format, but he lost his heart to the big band; a dream he could translate in the 1960s with the founding of his Concert Jazz Band. His Western Reunion Sextet stayed together for two years and isn't very known; maybe because only a few recordings were made. It recorded only three times: Presenting the Gerry Mulligan Sextet; A Profile of Gerry Mulligan and Mainstream of Jazz. There are only a few live recordings of this Western Reunion Sextet ( like the mentioned Hoover High School concert in Denver (Dec. 1954), a concert at the Basin Street (New York)(Late 1955), at the Red Hill Inn in Pennsauken (NJ Oct. 1956) and the Storyville Club in Boston ( early Dec. 1956).
The Dutch program for the April 1956 concerts ( in negative - click on the photo to enlarge)
In 1956 Gerry Mulligan gets a chance to leave for Europe for a three week series of concerts at the Theatre l'Olympia in Paris. Of course, Gerry seized the opportunity and left for France. The concerts in l' Olympia weren't very spectacular, as the sextet had to play for one quarter of an hours each evening as one of the "acts" in a vaudeville show with magicians, wild animals ( seals) and popular singers. After the three weeks gig they toured along some European venues, like the Eliseo Theatre in Rome, the Palais d' Hiver in Lyon and the Kurhaus in Scheveningen ( near The Hague) and at midnight that same evening at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. You can find an almost complete tour list at the bottom of this blog. Enjoy a film fragment of the Gerry Mulligan Sextet recorded at the Feb. 1956 concert in Rome: Bernie's Tune.

Great to find this film fragments from the Rome concert, but, what a surprise to learn that also the live concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, on the 7th of April, 1956 has survived on an audio tape. These recordings were released in the series Jazz at the Concertgebouw, a few months ago by the Muziek Centrum Nederland (the former Dutch Jazz Archive) as Gerry Mulligan - Western Reunion. The Sextet Live in Amsterdam 1956. It's the second record released in this Jazz at the Concertgebouw series; the first one was the complete 1955 Chet Baker concerts in Holland. Thanks to impresario Lou Van Rees, who recorded the concert, we can now listen to the (almost) entirely midnight concert.
On stage six men: Jon Eardley on trumpet, Bob Brookmeyer on the valve trombone, Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone, Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone and the piano, Bill Crow on bass and Dave Bailey on drums. Studio recordings by Gerry Mulligan show, most of the time, rather over-arranged performances; there is a world of differences listening to this live performance. Mulligan is joking with his colleagues and when he starts to play the theme of the second tune Nights At The Turntable, not selected on forehand, according a survived programme of the evening, he changes his mind and continues with a piece called Ontet. I think that the relaxed an elated mood on stage has to do with the act that this concert was one of the last from the European tour. Have a look to the same tune, Ontet, as played in Rome six weeks earlier, which is more modest; this from fragment is from the start of the tour!

In the first set they play the well known tune Line for Lyons, known from the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker piano-less-quartet-days and a Count Basie tune Ain't It The Truth with a solo by Bob Brookmeyer. The first set ends with Utter Chaos.
The Gerry Mulligan Sextet: f.l.t.r. Jon Eardley - Gerry Mulligan - Zoot Sims - Bob Brookmeyer - Bill CVrow and Dave Bailey. Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw 8th of April 1956 (photo courtesy Eddy Posthuma de Boer)
During the second set some more traditionals from the Quartet-days are played, like the standard I May Be Wrong and the great My Funny Valentine (a non-vocal version); but also a tune like Westwood Walk, he had written early 1950s for his Tentette. It seems that the band left for Europe without new repertoire, so they had to play some quartet-arrangements, re-written for sextet. At the end of the concert they play a half minute version of Stars and Stripes Forever and finish the concert with Western Reunion, the signature tune for the sextet. It's really great to listen to these live recordings, to look at the photos made by Eddy Posthuma de Boer and to share the atmosphere during the concert with the live fragments from the Teatro Eliseo in Rome, Italy, on the 22nd of February, 1956. Enjoy the sextet in Walkin' Shoes, a well-known Mulligan composition from the Mulligan-Baker Quartet period, as played in Rome.

I wonder - if the Dutch concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam started at midnight, shouldn't the recording date for this concert be the 8th of April, 1956?
Love to recommend this Gerry Mulligan - Western Reunion CD (MCN 08010 available at the online shop of the Dutch Jazz Archive.

Hans Koert -

An (almost)Complete List of Concerts by the Gerry Mulligan Western Reunion Tour Along Europe.

= Teatro Eliseo, Rome, Italy, February 22, 1956
=Teatro Universale, Genoa, Italy, February 24, 1956 = Teatro della Fiera Campionarie, Milan, Italy, February 25, 1956 = Teatro Nuovo, Turin, Italy, February 26, 1956 = Teatro Duse, Bologna, Italy, February 27, 1956 =
Versailles, France, February 29, 1956 = Olympia Theatre, Paris, France, March 1, 1956 = Palais d'Hiver, Lyon, France, Early March, 1956 = Lille, France, Early March, 1956 = Rouen, France, March 7, 1956 = Movie Theatre, Roubaix, France, March 14, 1956 = Geneva, Switzerland, Mid March, 1956 = Lugano, Switzerland, March 22, 1956 = Stadt Casino, Basel, Switzerland, March 23, 1956 = Cinema Urban, Zurich, Switzerland, March 24, 1956 = Brussels, Belgium, March 25, 1956 = Landstuhl, West Germany, March 30, 1956 = Paris, France, Early April, 1956 = Kurhaus, Den Haag, Holland, April 7, 1956 (8:15 am) = Concertgebow, Amsterdam, Holland, April 7, 1956 (24.00 am) = l'Olympia, Paris, France, April 10, 1956

Keep swinging

Hans Koert
Some sites you should have seen;
Gerry Mulligan At Salle Pleyel Gerry Mulligan Tentette and Quartet My Funny Valentine Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Keep Swinging News letter Keep Swinging Contributions

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your additions, anonymous !!


6:44 PM  

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