Gerry Mulligan: Jeru
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (Blue Note)
Composed by Gerry Mulligan.
Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, April 27, 1953
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Gerry Mulligan's immense talent as a performer, composer and arranger were so significantly impressive throughout the mid- to late 1940s and early '50s that he managed to not only reinvent the possibilities of the baritone sax, but concurrently had a hand in developing the entire cool jazz aesthetic – a rare occurrence for a non-dominant lead instrument. While the original "Jeru" from the Birth of the Cool is better known, this 2½ -minute version by the influential Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker pianoless quartet is just about as close to perfect as a recording can get. Mulligan solos first, and the stunning weight of his beginning statement (00:31-00:39) opens the door for subsequent generations of baritone saxophonists to consistently and inventively "kill it" with the opening line of their improvisations. Also note Mulligan's sensitive comping (no guitar or piano, remember) under Baker's story-time solo. The two then engage in collective improvisation before a brief bass solo ushers in the final cadenza. Definitive West Coast jazz.
Reviewer: Eric Novod