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.
Personally I feel that this CD, which does not contain *all* of the famous tracks recorded by Mulligan and Webster together, is nevertheless quite adequate for anyone who wants a good, representative sample of what they achieved.
Starting in the late '50s, Gerry Mulligan recorded a series of encounters with fellow saxophonists that included such immortals as Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. In 1986 he resumed the practice for this one date on which his baritone is matched with the tenor of the young great Scott Hamilton. The music, which includes warm ballads and fairly hot romps (five of the seven songs are Mulligan originals), consistently swing and are quite enjoyable.
Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, several bonus tracks on nearly each disc (some previously unreleased) and new liner notes providing historical context to the original material, the series celebrates the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records, the prolific New York-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1950s and '60s.
A little less than eight years after it occurred, Concord Records issued this concert, originally broadcast on German radio, from Gerry Mulligan's last European tour, performed less than a year before his death. Mulligan appears with his regular band of the time – pianist Ted Rosenthal, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Ron Vincent – playing a group of originals that serve as springboards for his lyrical style of baritone saxophone playing. The group, which had been together for several years at this point, plays smoothly, offering excellent support to the leader. A special treat is the final track, a version of "These Foolish Things" on which Mulligan duets with guest star Dave Brubeck. The album demonstrates that, in his maturity, Mulligan continued to live up to the standards he had set for himself across a career stretching back 45 years. There are no real revelations this late in the game, but Mulligan and the band play with the assurance of veterans.
In the 1950s, tenor-saxophonist Ben Webster was at the peak of his powers. His musical personality really featured two separate emotions: harsh and tough on the faster pieces and surprisingly warm and tender on the ballads. Webster uses the latter voice throughout this two-LP set. On all but four of 20 selections, Ben is backed by a string section arranged by Ralph Burns (except for "Chelsea Bridge" which was arranged by Billy Strayhorn) and, although clarinetists Tony Scott and Jimmy Hamilton and pianists Teddy Wilson and Hank Jones are heard from, the focus is otherwise entirely on the great tenor. The final four numbers, which matches Webster with Wilson in a stringless quartet, also stick to ballads. Music that is both beautiful and creative.