Many tributes to Gerry Mulligan appeared following the death of the talented baritone saxophonist and composer in 1996, but this one is easily the best of the lot. Mulligan's final rhythm section is present, with pianist Ted Rosenthal (who also serves as arranger and musical director), bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Ron Vincent, along with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer (a veteran of many editions of various groups, both large and small, led by Mulligan), alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, and Randy Brecker, who doubles on trumpet and flugelhorn. There are a number of reasons why this session turned out so well: the eight Mulligan compositions don't just include the early hits, but also challenging works from late in his career; the interplay between the players and their individual solos are never less than superb; finally, they felt no need to include a baritone saxophonist on the date, as Brookmeyer's valve trombone consistently achieves the lyrical feeling that Mulligan would have added on his baritone sax if he had been present, even if the two instruments aren't that close in sound. The breathtaking version of "My Funny Valentine," the perky "Bark for Barksdale" and "Bernie's Tune," and the lovely swinger "Curtains" are all highlights, but the entire release merits repeated hearings. The heartfelt remarks by Mulligan's old friend Dave Brubeck and the individual comments by each of the musicians on this date also add a nice touch. It is likely that the most difficult part of producing this session was choosing which songs to record from Mulligan's voluminous discography, so a follow-up recording would be most welcome. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden