Although Gerry Mulligan died in 1996, many who had heard him in the '90s felt that he was playing at a level even higher than his acclaimed efforts of the previous four decades. Set for release on October 24, 2000, The Art of Gerry Mulligan: The Final Recordings contains a cross-section of material recorded during the last three years of his exceptionally creative life. These thirteen tracks rank among his most accessible work.
Chronologically, the earliest session comes from Mulligan's 1993 collaboration with vocalist Jane Duboc, with Duboc's lyrics and Mulligan's compositions on three tracks. Mulligan original "O Bom Alvinho" is a tribute to Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Hermeto Pascoal. Mulligan also revisits Antonio Carlos Jobim's immortal "Wave."
There's more Brazilian flavor in Mulligan's "Song for Strayhorn," one of a set of pieces recorded by his regular quartet. His empathy with long-term pianist Ted Rosenthal is exemplary, especially when taking a song like "Dream a Little Dream" and making it sound like a Mulligan original. On Jerome Kern's "Nobody Else But Me," Mulligan's sensitive solo work reveals why he was considered such a great improviser. He is equally effective with pianist Billy May in one of his quartet's earliest hits, "My Funny Valentine."
Even after his death, Mulligan remains jazz's most famous baritone sax player. An icon from the '50s with his trademark light and airy tone, he was a consistent player and a commanding composer, arranger and bandleader who played a pivotal role in developing "cool jazz" and the West Coast's jazz scene.
This album brings together three Mulligan releases on Telarc from the mid-'90s: the Brazilian Paraiso (CD-83361) from 1993, with singer Duboc; a quartet recording, Dream A Little Dream (CD-83364), from 1994; and 1995's Dragonfly (CD-83377), also by the quartet but with featured special guests, including guitarist John Scofield, saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and pianist Dave Grusin.
A brilliant introduction to Mulligan's later work, The Art of Gerry Mulligan: The Final Recordings celebrates the life and career of one of jazz's most beloved innovators, and preserves one of the creative high spots in his long and distinguished career.