Gerry Mulligan / Ben Webster

The Complete Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster Sessions

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Although an earlier CD added five previously unissued tracks to the original LP Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, this Verve Master Edition two-CD set adds just about everything else recorded during the two sessions that produced the original record, and also features 20-bit sound. Even though Gerry Mulligan was outspoken against issuing material omitted from his original recordings, it is a treat to hear how the songs evolved in the studio. Webster and Mulligan seem mutually inspired throughout the sessions, and strong performances by pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Mel Lewis are of considerable help. The music is presented in the order in which it was recorded, with each CD devoted to a separate session. In both cases it is clear that the initial takes of music from the Ellington songbook ("In a Mellotone" and "Chelsea Bridge") are more focused than the follow-up versions. They only needed one try to nail "What Is This Thing Called Love?" (also left off the LP), in an understated setting that shows off their beautiful interplay. Their barely disguised reworking of "I Got Rhythm," called "Who's Got Rhythm," was likely an effortless performance, though Webster seems to briefly laugh in the middle of his solo. Webster's swinging "Fajista" opens the second date, followed by two takes of Mulligan's beautiful ballad "Tell Me When." Webster's "Blues in B-Flat" is another fine swinger inexplicably left off the LP, and Rowles kicks off the oldie "Sunday" with a brief stride piano introduction (something Webster played himself but rarely in a recording studio). Fans on a budget can probably make due with the earlier CD reissue but serious fans of Mulligan and/or Webster should invest in this very rewarding set instead.

blue highlight denotes track pick