Gerry Mulligan

Jazz Casual: Gerry Mulligan

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The Gerry Mulligan Quartet's 1962 appearance on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual TV series is one of the most enjoyable released on video, especially because of the wonderful interplay between the baritone saxophonist and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, as heard during Mulligan's swinging opener, "Four for Three," and later in Brookmeyer's "Open Country." The leader's choppy piano style gives the group a very different sound, though it is every bit as effective as the two-horn pianoless quartet. Mulligan's familiar set closer, "Utter Chaos," closes the show, though it is unfortunately incomplete due to the show's imposed time limit. During the interview segment, Mulligan explains to his host the differences between working with a small group and a big band; the small group has more flexibility about trying new tunes without set arrangements on stage. Mulligan also discusses some of the things he disliked about jazz at the time ("Some attempts at total freedom are chaotic" and "You can't have freedom unless you have order to begin with"). Technical problems dating from the original videotape are frustrating, including out of focus long shots, excessive studio lighting reflecting off of the brass instruments, an annoying spot in the center of one camera lens, and poor miking of the horns as well. The packaging is also a little bit sloppy, with bassist Wyatt Ruther and drummer Gus Johnson listed playing each other's instruments, and "Darn That Dream" is mislabled "Dam That Dream." These minor complaints aside, this is one of the most essential programs of Gleason's entire series.

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