Gerry Mulligan / Ben Webster

Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster

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Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster Review

by Cub Koda

Make no mistake about it, the swing and bop start right here on this legendary 1959 session between baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and tenor man Ben Webster. Produced by Norman Granz as an early Verve album, this Mobile Fidelity 24-karat gold-disc reissue is sonically worth the extra bread as it feels like you're right in the control room every note of the way. The opening track, Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" is lush and emotional and truly sets the tone for this album. With Jimmy Rowles on piano (his intro on "Sunday" sounds like a ragtimer like Willie "The Lion" Smith just pushed him off the stool before the band came in), Mel Lewis on drums, and the always superb Leroy Vinnegar on bass present and accounted for, the rhythm section is superbly swinging with just the right amount of bop lines and chords in the mix to spice things up. The ghost of Duke Ellington hovers over every note on this record (Billy Strayhorn was one of his main arrangers) and that is a very good thing, indeed. There's a beautiful, understated quality to the music on this session that makes it the perfect relaxing around the house on a rainy day disc to pop in the player. File this one under cool, very smooth, and supple.

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