An Unfinished Woman shows that far from being tinged with nostalgia, Gerry Mulligan's approach is still a contemporary work in progress - albeit one that never abandoned its Cool School roots. The irrefutable evidence is to be found in inspired, elegant versions of classics such as Line For Lyons and My Funny Valentine, as well as in Mulligan's sense of theatre.
A year prior to this German concert, Mulligan had recorded Idol Gossip, an excellent album that sometimes gets
overlooked in the voluminous, 45-year body of work of jazz' greatest baritone saxophonist. His impressive ensemble
for the album (or one of them) is intact here, with guitarist Mike Santiago, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, pianist
Thomas Fay, drummer Bobby Rosengarden, and bassist George Duvivier (the only member of both of Gossip's
aggregations - the other including such heavyweights as Bucky Pizzarelli, Lionel Hampton, Hank Jones, and Grady
Tate). In fact, the group performs three of that album's eight songs, along with Mulligan's 'Line For Lyons' and 'My
Funny Valentine,' which are forever linked to him and his association with trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker.
The opening 'For An Unfinished Woman' is more cerebral (almost in a Modern Jazz Quartet vein) than Mulligan's previous
connections with hard bop and West Coast 'cool' school, a label he always hated. Santiago s single-note attack is the most
visceral section of the number. On the uptempo 'Idol Gossip,' he digs in to the edge of distortion, with fiery
octave choruses, and the bluesy 'Out Back Of The Barn' is right down his lowdown alley. A revelation for guitar
fans, Santiago's slim resume includes work with Chico Hamilton around this same period and little else.
The new Jazz Haus label is committed to releasing seldom heard recordings, mainly from live European
TV and radio broadcasts, including the SWR Archives (approximately 3,000 hours). The other two CDs in
its maiden trio are Benny Goodman's 1959 orchestra, featuring vocalist Anita O'Day and guitar legend Jimmy
Wyble, and Cannonball Adderley's 1969 quintet (no guitar, but an amazing find). Jazz fans will no doubt
want to support the label's launch to help ensure more great jazz down the pike. --Vintage Guitar, August 2012