The original Gerry Mulligan
Quartet had its charms. Mulligan on baritone saxophone, Chet Baker
on trumpet, Bob Whitlock
on bass and Chico Hamilton
on drums had a breezy, contrapuntal sound laced with innocence and coy harmony. But the meatier group with a swing passing gear was Mulligan's quartet with Bob Brookmeyer
on valve trombone, Bill Crow
on bass and Dave Bailey
on drums—and his sextet with John Eardley or Don Ferrara
on trumpet and Zoot Sims
on tenor saxophone added.
The latter two groups had greater heft in the middle and a more muscular sense of purpose. Mind you, I'm splitting hairs. The original quartet was fleet and pure delight, entering the four-way intersection from every direction. But Brookmeyer was something more and most exceptional as a Mulligan foil. If the original group with Baker was Dover sole, the group with Brookmeyer was beef stew. So I'm here to sing the praises of Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Crow and Dave Bailey, who took the piano-less bag to a the next level. Of course, other bassists and drummers were used behind Mulligan and Brookmeyer in the quartet setting. But with Bill and Bailey, the sound Mulligan was looking for snapped into place.
Rather than write additionally about the group today, let me illustrate with three videos:
Here's the Gerry Mulligan Sextet (with Eardley on trumpet) in Milan, Italy, in 1956...
Here's the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Crow and Dave Bailey in Germany in 1956...
And here's the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in July 1962 on Ralph J. Gleason's Jazz Casual
TV show in San Francisco, with Wyatt Ruther (bass) and Gus Johnson (drums)...
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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