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Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges

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Album Review

Gerry Mulligan's 1959 studio date with Johnny Hodges is one of the most satisfying sessions of his various meetings with different saxophonists for Verve, yet it was inexplicably the last to be made available on CD. With a hand-picked rhythm section consisting of pianist Claude Williamson, bassist Buddy Clark, and drummer Mel Lewis, and three originals contributed by each of the two leaders, everything gels nicely, though several tracks took more than three takes (in spite of liner note writer Nat Hentoff's assertions) to reach their final form. Mulligan contributed the gorgeous ballad "What's the Rush" (where he sat back to enjoy Hodges' solo and never plays his own horn), the easygoing swinger "Bunny," and the brisk cooker "18 Carrots (For Rabbit)," the latter which its composer would revisit with his Concert Jazz Band. The veteran alto saxophonist contributed the low-key ballad "Shady Side," the sassy blues "Back Beat" (later re-recorded by Hodges during a still unreleased 1960 studio meeting with Ben Webster), and "What It's All About," another potent blues. Throughout the date, the two saxophonists blend beautifully and complement one another's efforts, even though this was their only opportunity to record together in the studio. Sadly, no alternate takes or unissued numbers (at least two of which exist) have been added to this long anticipated reissue.


Born: 06 April 1927 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The most famous and probably greatest jazz baritonist of all time, Gerry Mulligan was a giant. A flexible soloist who was always ready to jam with anyone from Dixielanders to the most advanced boppers, Mulligan brought a somewhat revolutionary light sound to his potentially awkward and brutal horn and played with the speed and dexterity of an altoist. Mulligan started on the piano before learning clarinet and the various saxophones. His initial reputation was as an arranger. In 1944 he wrote charts...
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