Gerry Mulligan: Lady Chatterley's Mother


Lady Chatterley's Mother


Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band


Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band at the Village Vanguard (Verve V6- 8396)

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Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Bob Brookmeyer (valve trombone), Clark Terry (trumpet), Mel Lewis (drums),

Nick Travis, Don Ferrara (trumpets), Willie Dennis (trombone), Alan Raph (bass trombone), Gene Quill, Bob Donovan (alto saxes), Jim Reider (tenor sax), Gene Allen (baritone sax), Bill Crow (bass)


Composed & arranged by Al Cohn


Recorded: live at the Village Vanguard, New York, December 11, 1960


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Gerry Mulligan's early '60s Concert Jazz Band was one of the most musically influential big bands of its time. That influence carries on today, as this band was the spiritual forerunner of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band, which begat the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, which begat the present-day Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. The CJB's slightly reduced instrumentation, with one less player in each section than was and still is customary in big bands, gave it a unique and original lightness and transparency.

The supreme irony of this band is that Mulligan originally formed it as a vehicle for his own writing, but the demands of running the business side of things, combined with pressing matters in his personal life, left him little time for writing. As a result, Bob Brookmeyer assumed the role of straw boss and de facto music director, handling the bulk of the writing. The band's book was filled out by works from such outstanding writers as Bill Holman, Johnny Mandel, John Carisi, George Russell, Gary McFarland, and Al Cohn, among others.

"Lady Chatterley's Mother" is perhaps Al Cohn's finest work for the CJB. It is a lively 40-bar theme in AABA form with a distinctive 16-bar bridge. Brookmeyer, Terry and Mulligan contribute characteristically fine solos, and there is a dazzling sax soli with Mulligan joining the section. The sax soli is followed by a great ensemble passage in which Cohn derives maximum intensity using minimum density by pitting a declarative unison line in the trumpets against a pedal tone in the lower horns, with no harmony in between, thus providing a great lesson for today's voicing-obsessed big band writers.

Reviewer: Kenny Berger

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  • 1 Alan Kurtz // Jan 31, 2009 at 01:11 AM
    In his booklet notes for Mosaic's out-of-print The Complete Verve Gerry Mulligan Concert Band Sessions, Bill Kirchner observes that "Lady Chatterley's Mother" is "oddly reminiscent of" Leroy Anderson's yuletide favorite "Sleigh Ride" (1946), which likewise has an AABA 40-bar theme and a 16-bar bridge. If Mel Lewis had been on hand to drive the original "Sleigh Ride" the way he manhandles "Lady Chatterley's Mother," 1940s hipsters would've enjoyed more than their usual Christmas cheer.