JJ 12/62: Gerry Mulligan – The Concert Jazz Band On Tour

Sixty years ago Bob Burns thought he had found the holy grail of the complete jazz record, thanks to top-class writing, playing and soloing. First published in Jazz Journal December 1962


Wonderful jazz, beautiful music, terri­fically exciting atmosphere, heartfelt improvisation, superb playing in both en­sembles and solos – this record has got everything! It’s one of the best bands ever assembled, a credit to Mulligan, and he a credit to them.

It has generally, thanks to the good taste of all the arrangers, an overall feeling of a small band, using the brass section (as sym­phonic composers and Duke Ellington do) for tone colouring and development.

Zoot is the foremost soloist and it’s difficult to imagine him in better form. No wonder they call him Mr Time. Even if he was to have a slightly lower moment, his time never gets out or wavers for a fraction of a beat. As a friend of mine remarked, “If tenor sax was listed in the dictionary, the defini­tion should read Zoot Sims”. I agree. All his solos here depict greatness, originality and the true gift of jazz im­provisation. But there is no scene hog­ging, for all the other soloists are equally inspired.

Brookmeyer generates as much excitement as a whole band with his highly individual style, and sounds completely free in this sensitive ensemble. Mulligan’s tone is even better and his articulation faultless as he sets the pat­tern of the proceedings in his solos and encourages Zoot along to even greater heights.

Don Ferrara is an excellent improviser in his solo on “Barbara’s Theme”, a lovely tune composed and arranged by Johnny Mandel, one of the leading pens in jazz today. “Come Rain” is Zoot’s ballad feature and it’s sheer beauty all the way. Bill Holman’s scores add every bit of variety required and the band interpret them with great understanding.

If you haven’t got this record, run quickly – your collection is missing, as they say, ‘something else’.

Go Home; Barbara’s Theme; I Want To Live (21 min) – Red Door; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Apple Core; Go Home (21 min)
Nick Travis, Don Ferrara, Conte Candoli (tpts); Bob Brookmeyer, Willie Dennis, Alan Ralph (tmbs); Gene Quill (clt); Bob Donavan (alto); Jim Reider (ten); Gene Allen (bs-clt-bari ); Mel Lewis (d); Buddy Clark (bs); Zoot Sims (ten); Gerry Mulligan (leader, bari & p). California, Berlin and Milan, 1960.
(HMV Verve CLP 1585 12inLP 34s. 4½d.)