During a 1954 trip to Europe Gerry Mulligan played several concerts in Paris at the Salle Pleyel to enthusiastic crowds, excerpts from which are heard on this CD and a second volume, issued separately. The baritone saxophonist is joined by one of his most stimulating musical partners, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer; the quartet's rhythm section includes bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Frank Isola (who sticks to brushes). Mulligan does his best to introduce most of the tunes in halting French to the appreciation of the audience. Mulligan and Brookmeyer work magic together as they alternate between taking the lead and providing backgrounds for one another, while also engaging in some terrific counterpoint. The set includes standards, classic jazz tunes and Mulligan's originals, all of which delight the audience. It is almost impossible to name all of the highlights within this disc, though "Bernie's Tune" (with a playful detour into a circus theme), Mulligan's loping "Walkin' Shoes" and cool "Soft Shoe" as well as "My Funny Valentine," which rivals his famous recording with trumpeter Chet Baker. This CD and its companion volume should be considered among Gerry Mulligan's most essential recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden