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The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker

17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 30, 1991
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Editorial Reviews


1. Festive Minor - Gerry Mulligan

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 30, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B000005HGI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,203 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dana on December 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
. . . this is THE one.
Frankly, it's hard to imagine a partnership of two individuals less likely to succeed: Mulligan, New York-raised, formally trained, tall, fair-haired, his theoretician's instincts already refined by years in several influential late-40s big bands and a successful collaboration with Gil Evans/Miles Davis; Baker, on the other hand, a man who would come to be termed "jazz's 'dark angel," southwest-born and bred, largely self-taught and instinctive in his approach to music, a "problem child" virtually from birth.
The traits they shared were largely negative: histories of drug abuse and an inability to deal with their "inner demons," lousy tempers, and an incredible talent for fatally sabotaging their personal relationships, intellectual impatience versus an inbred inferiority complex. Even their "instrumental philosophies" were at variance; Mulligan was prone to treat his baritone sax almost as a tenor -- or even alto -- in his approach, while Chet Baker consistently seemed to eschew the arrogant brassiness of most trumpeters of his (or, for that matter, the current) era.
Try to imagine these guys "hanging out" together, or -- a bold leap of imagination -- at a barbecue with their families of the moment. Never mind; it never happened.
What did happen -- thankfully -- is that, for eleven months in the early '50s, playing night after night at The Haig in L.A., Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker found common cause -- a lingua franca -- in the music they made together, and in the sound they helped to develop (the so-called "West Coast" or "cool jazz" school), as here memorialized in a selection of remasterings from original Pacific Jazz 78 rpm singles.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By "ornen" on April 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This album, containing some of the most well-known Mulligan/Baker numbers, sure is doing good. The spontaneous music created by these two extremely gifted men is so timeless and has such a great deal of classic elegance, many people appreciate that, and there seems to be a bit of a sales boom for their music at the beginning of this new millenium.
Respect is due for these two forefathers of the Cool Jazz movement, and there is nothing bad to say about this album. But if I was going to buy only one album by the Mulligan/Baker quartet, it wouldn't be this one, but the Gerry Mulligan - The Original Quartet With Chet Baker (2CD), where the music is just as fine, and there is more than twice as much of it!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Joost Daalder on September 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It is difficult to imagine a serious collection of jazz recordings in which this quartet is not represented. The only quarrel one might have with this CD is that it is not as complete as one would like - but it is, nonetheless, representative, and the music remains irresistibly attractive: fresh, melodious, engaging, original (not least in its orchestration). As Mulligan himself was the first to admit, the idea of a jazz band without piano was not, by itself, new. But the way THIS band was composed and worked certainly WAS new. The interplay between Mulligan and Baker was highly successful, and "made up" for what to some might seem an odd "omission" of a piano, as the baritone and trumpet were very much used as two beautifully interwoven voices. The overall effect was highly spontaneous and inspirational, though these days one would like to hear longer solos (which could not, then, be provided.) Both Mulligan and Baker played great improvised solos, even if short; Baker was probably never more appealing to listen to than in those early years, whether lyrical or crisply fiery, though he still produced good music afterwards. Mulligan changed - in particular, grew more "robust" and venturesome in later years - but did not necessarily play better than he does on these tracks. The other musicians provided excellent backing. This music will not date, even though it is clearly of its time - indeed, provided a milestone, and a sensation, when it was first released.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Neill on July 25, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I had been a Baker fan for a few years, and liked GM too, but in my ignorance, I'd never lighted upon this cd until reading James Gavin's wonderful (Deep in a Dream) Baker biography. How one of the most despicable characters in music history could have made such beautiful music is beyond me (and, as he admits, beyond Gavin, too), but by god: Chet Baker had an extraordinary gift which, when combined with the enormous talents of his fellow heroin-addict Mulligan, created a spectacular collaboration on this once-in-a-lifetime cd.

When you read in Gavin's book about the trials and tribulations that Mulligan/Baker were going through in LA as these tracks were being laid down -- Mulligan's conviction and incarceration for possession, remember, ended the quartet's existence, although Chet Baker would make up for not-so-lost time with long stretches in the slammer himself in the years ahead -- it is utterly remarkable that these two lost-in-space cadets got together long enough to do something this remarkable!

If there is a better rendition of Valentine, anywhere, please let me know. In the meantime, Mulligan w/Baker may be the single most essential Fifties jazz cd any novice to the field must buy -- and buy now.

This was where Baker, btw, cut his Funny Valentine chops -- he recorded, methinks, thirty or so versions, at least, of his signature piece -- and anyone who can listen to the magnificent interplay on this cd between two of the greatest of jazz greats who, in 1952-54, had no idea either of them was going anywhere, besides to prison, will make strong men crumble, women weep, and children stand up and pay attention.... k
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