15
Oct
18

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet “What Is There to Say?”

Somehow I ended up with two of these albums, even though I’m not particularly a rabid Gerry Mulligan fan—which leads me to believe it was a fairly popular jazz record which you could sell a mint copy on the internet for about $2.00. I’m listening to it now, though, and it’s great. I’m going to keep one of these just as pure listening for pleasure record—the other copy is up for grabs. It just occurred to me—what do I have against Gerry Mulligan? Maybe it’s his first name that bothers me—that name, I’m never sure if it’s “Jerry” or “Gary”—I mean, I guess it’s always pronounced like Jerry—okay—sorry to offend the Gerry’s out there, that’s not fair. Maybe it’s his last name, which is some kind of stew, I guess, and also an unfortunate golf term—but it’s also Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel—one of my favorite children’s picture books—so I should come around it it! Also, he’s a blond guy playing jazz—no big deal, or shouldn’t be—but say, the picture of him on the cover of this album—you’ve never seen such long blond eyelashes. Actually, he really reminds me of someone on this cover photo—its either some famous actress or someone I know—I should just try to get that out of my head or I’ll go nuts trying to think of who. And then… he plays—or is most well known for—a weird instrument—the baritone saxophone—which isn’t really that weird actually, and is really pretty cool, and sounds great. So all in all, I should just really come around to Gerry Mulligan!

The liner notes on back are by Gerry Mulligan, and pretty good—a bit of a diatribe against the over-seriousness of jazz criticism—not too angry, good-natured. The quartet is Mulligan, Art Farmer on trumpet, Bill Crown on bass, and Dave Bailey on drums. Eight songs, some standards like “My Funny Valentine” and “Just in Time,” and some originals by Mulligan, including one called “Utter Chaos.” The songs were all recorded right about the time I was being conceived, if not biologically, working up to it with what I hope were romantic good times. My dad might have had this record, actually, though I don’t recall seeing it in his collection—though I might have ignored it, just thinking about how you could land a helicopter on that dude’s eyelashes. It’s the kind of stuff my dad listened to—he liked cool jazz—and maybe my mom, too—I’m not sure, now that I think about it—whose records were whose, for sure—which ones they each brought to the relationship, and then which ones they bought after the marriage. It’s too late to ask them now, too—kind of sad. Anyone reading this whose parents are still alive, make sure you ask them all those questions, important or not, while you have the chance!

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1 Response to “The Gerry Mulligan Quartet “What Is There to Say?””


  1. 1 J Curtis
    October 15, 2018 at 11:23 am

    My dad, who was a jazz fan (and drummer!) in the 1950s, and who mostly had what I would not particularly call “cool jazz,” but rather “hot jazz,” mostly west-coast stuff (he had NO John Coletrane, and only one Miles Davis album, which was actually a soundtrack album from the movie “Frantic”), had a lot of Gerry Mulligan records, but not this one. I’ve been meaning to go through the records of his that I inherited from him — it’s not a huge collection, maybe around 100 records total, or 150ish — but growing up with them always in the house, for some reason all these jazz records kind of intimidated me. I think I have more of an ear for it now, and now they don’t so much intimidate me as make me wonder if they’re actually any good or not. I know some of them are pretty good. I’ve actually just been thinking about this “listening project” over the past week or so for some reason, so this particular post is a good reminder/motivator (and it’s kind of weird that you mention your parents having it as well!). If you really have a second copy of it up for grabs, and don’t mind mailing it.. let me know! I did always like the Gerry Mulligan records when my dad would play them..


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