Gerry Mulligan

1927 - 1996

Baritone Saxophone

Though the baritone saxist/composer is primarily known as a major figure in the "Cool" school of jazz, Gerry Mulligan fit in well with figures representing virtually all jazz styles, as his collaborations with Thelonious Monk, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and Paul Desmond testify. No one in jazz has better implemented the baritone saxophone than Mulligan.
Born April 6, 1927, in New York City, Mulligan was writing arrangements for Johnny Warrington's radio band when he was 17. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, he returned to his birthplace at 19 to become staff arranger for Gene Krupa's group.
The ensuing years coupled him with the bands of Claude Thornhill, Kai Winding and Stan Kenton, but his most prominent early career presence was as a player in Miles Davis' celebrated nonet in 1949 and 1950. In fact, many feel that his input on the famous "Birth of the Cool" sessions was unfairly under-emphasized by Davis. Mulligan became increasingly significant as a jazz musician when, after moving to Los Angeles, he formed the highly rated piano-less quartet, with trumpeter Chet Baker, in 1952. The lack of a piano for harmonic direction required exceptionally tight interplay between Mulligan and Baker -  later replaced by Art Farmer - creating a new texture in jazz that was overwhelmingly accepted by '50s jazz fans. Recordings of the Quartet remain classics until this day; compare The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker and The Original Quartet with Chet Baker. From 68-72 he was a part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
Because of his interest in arranging for larger ensembles, the post-'50s Mulligan led groups featuring 13, 14 and even 20 players. Basing himself in mostly in New York, Mulligan's tours of Europe and Japan cemented his reputation as both a top-notch arranger and the name most likely associated with bringing respect to the baritone saxophone. He died Jan. 19, 1996 when he was 68 years old.
Check out Gerry Mulligan's page at emusic for free MP3 downloads
Recommended recordings
The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker Blue Note
The Original Quartet with Chet Baker Blue Note
Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster Verve 841-661
Gerry Mulligan / Paul Desmond Quartet Verve
Two of a mind (with Paul Desmond) BMG/ RCA
What is there to Say ? Columbia 52978
Mulligan Meets Monk OJC 301-2 - Riverside 1106
Konitz Meets Mulligan Blue Note
Dream a Little Dream Telarc
Dragonfly Telarc
Night Lights Verve
Verve Jazz Masters 36 Verve
Getz meets Mulligan in Hi-Fi Verve
Re-Birth of the Cool Universal/ GRP