Gerry Mulligan

California High School

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This oddly titled release is actually a compilation drawn from two separate concerts, issued in more complete form as part of EMI-Manhattan's Pacific Jazz reissues in 1988. Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan took his quartet with trumpeter Jon Eardley, bassist Red Mitchell, and drummer Chico Hamilton to Stockton High School. With his earlier quartet with Chet Baker dissolved due to Mulligan's drug bust and subsequent prison sentence, Eardley is a capable foil for the baritonist, even if they don't reach the heights of the earlier group. Mulligan switches to piano for his choppy, train-like "Piano Blues," though the extended workout of "Bark for Barksdale" is also a highlight. Intertwined with the quartet selections are several tracks from a sextet concert recorded at Hoover High School 11 days later, with the addition of valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, with Larry Bunker in Hamilton's place. The Sims-Mulligan collaboration "The Red Door" achieved a long life following this concert, with Brookmeyer supporting them on piano. The more obscure "Western Reunion" is also noteworthy, with fluid horn solos by all three front-liners. This strangely sequenced, incomplete compilation provides collectors a less expensive alternative to the earlier pair of discs that have long been out of print.

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