Billy Taylor was already in his early seventies and Gerry Mulligan not far behind when the pianist and baritone saxophonist performed together for the first time in a series of 1993 dates at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh, PA. The two had been close friends for years, though, and their on-stage meeting has an aura of inevitability about it: there's a symbiotic relationship at work here from the first moments that only grows tighter as the program moves along. By this time, each musician had half a century of experience behind him, accustomed to working in any number of diverse configurations, but together they keep things loose and easy here, not looking to prove anything to anyone -- only to enjoy each other's company. Working with drummer Carl Allen and bassist Chip Jackson, Mulligan and Taylor largely stick with the standards, playing them straight-ahead and unadorned, yet injecting each with a sense of tenderness and integrity. There's a palpable sense of mutual respect as they trade riffs on tunes that, in less capable hands, would just sound old and tired. Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," Johnny Mercer's "Laura," and the classic "Body and Soul" are all spacious and bluesy, Taylor bringing a moodiness to it that Mulligan is all too happy to feed off. The opening "Stompin' at the Savoy" is a chipper, midtempo romp setting a good-time mood that never dissipates, and the set's two originals, Taylor's "Capricious" and Mulligan's "Line for Lyons," are dramatic swingers that give the band and its soloists a chance to open up and blow, without getting carried away. Mulligan only had a little more than two years left, and although he and Taylor never left more of a mark as partners, it's a good thing that this superb, thoroughly enjoyable document survives.
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin