Gerry Mulligan

Jazz Casual: Gerry Mulligan & Art Pepper

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This CD compiles the soundtracks to two broadcasts of Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual, a public television series that aired during the 1960s. The first, featuring the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, is by far the better of the two. Not only is the playing at a consistently high level, but Mulligan proves to be a compelling interview. Mulligan's tricky "Four by Three" features beautiful counterpoint between he and frequent collaborator Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, as well as some splendid improvising. Mulligan switches to piano for a choppy but interesting "Darn That Dream"; Brookmeyer's "Open Country," like the opening track, is a gem. Oddly enough, Koch repeats Rhino's earlier mistake by misidentifying the instruments of bassist Wyatt Reuther and drummer Gus Johnson! Unfortunately, Art Pepper had fallen under the influence of John Coltrane by the time of this 1964 broadcast and his droning compositions on this TV appearance generally haven't stood the test of time very well; neither is he a very interesting interview subject, as he sounds nervous and has some trouble getting his thoughts across succinctly to Gleason. "The Trip," with its Middle Eastern sound and Pepper's alto sax frequently sounding somewhat like a soprano sax, is the most interesting track of his set, though it hardly sounds like it has been fully rehearsed. Pepper's quartet also makes for an odd pairing with the cool swinging sounds of Mulligan's quartet. The rather obvious choice of either the Dave Brubeck Quartet or the Art Farmer Quartet with Jim Hall, both of which have been issued on video by Rhino, would have been for a much more logical compilation with Mulligan on this CD.