Gerry Mulligan

Songbook

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Until it was reissued on CD, this was one of the rarer Gerry Mulligan albums. The original program consisted of seven Mulligan compositions played by a five-sax octet (including the leader on baritone, altoist Lee Konitz, Allen Eager and Zoot Sims doubling on tenor and alto, Al Cohn on tenor and baritone and a rhythm section consisting of guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Henry Grimes, and drummer Dave Bailey). The session has a few surprise touches, giving listeners the rare opportunity to hear Eager and Sims soloing on alto and Cohn doubling on baritone. This was Allen Eager's first recording in several years and would be the last one of his prime (Eager's next album would be for Uptown in 1982); he had other interests outside of music. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the date is that the clever, witty and swinging arrangements are not by Mulligan but by Bill Holman. The CD reissue is rounded off by four selections from a largely unissued ("The Preacher" came out as an edited sampler) session featuring Mulligan with drummer Dave Bailey and a string quartet led by bassist Vinnie Burke. The performances are not chamber music but fairly conventional if spirited bop. Cellist Calo Scott trades off a bit with Jeru and guitarist Remo Palmieri makes one wonder what ever happened to him. Highly recommended for Gerry Mulligan fans.

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