A Fascinating New Look at Great Old Tunes
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The second Gerry Mulligan tribute released in 1998, "Thank You, Gerry! Our Tribute to Gerry Mulligan" (Arkadia) takes the opposite approach of the Three Baritone Sax Band. It leaves out the baritone voice entirely. This album features an all-star cast of Mulligan's most notable sidemen, including Randy Brecker, Bob Brookmeyer, and Lee Konitz, and modernized arrangements of some of Mulligan's more famous themes. It features tunes from the original pianoless quartet almost exclusively, reworked for a sextet with piano. The charts, by pianist Ted Rosenthal, bring out a different side of these eleven Mulligan classics. Instead of a heavy focus on two-voice, improvised counterpoint, the album utilizes more planned, pre-written interplay between the three lead voices. I can hardly stress enough the different sound created simply by exluding the baritone. As could be expected, the soloing is superb, especially from Brookmeyer and Brecker. Brookmeyer has per! fected the soloing style he developed with the Mulligan quartet, and anchors the group with incredible consistency. Brecker, on the other hand, provides a contrast to Brookmeyer and Konitz, improvising in a much more modern style. My single complaint with this album is its focus on Mulligan's oldest tunes. True, these tunes led to his initial rise to fame, and when fans speak of the Mulligan "sound," they most often refer to the original quartet. But it is a mistake to forget the other, amazingly productive, periods in Jeru's career, some of which are similarly worth of the tribute. In the liner notes, Dave Brubeck refers to Gerry as the "past, present, and future" of jazz; despite its flaws, this album emphasizes that point, drawing on Gerry's wide repertoire for an album of music as contemporary now as it was then. Jeff Sackmann (7/23/98)"