Gerry Mulligan: Deception
Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax)
Re-Birth of the Cool (GRP 9679)
Dave Bargeron (trombone), Bill Barber (tuba), John Clark (French horn), Dean Johnson (bass), Ron Vincent (drums).
Composed by Miles Davis; arranged by Gerry Mulligan.
Recorded: New York, January 29-31, 1992
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
It's hard to believe that the complete Birth of the Cool, including all 12 studio tracks recorded in 1949 and '50, did not see the light of day on one LP until 1971. Eight titles were collected in 1954, 11 in 1957, but that was it until a Dutch subsidiary of Capitol compiled the 12 titles in 1971.
The Miles Davis Nonet was essentially a streamlined model of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, aiming to add fresh and welcoming coloration and texture through written arrangements to the prevailing technically brilliant yet often intimidating bebop methodology of the day. In 1991, original Nonet member Gerry Mulligan decided it was time to record a new version of Birth of the Cool. Miles Davis was interested in participating, but his untimely death resulted in Wallace Roney taking his place. Another Nonet alumnus, Lee Konitz, had prior obligations and was replaced by the "hotter" Phil Woods. Mulligan was able to recruit Bill Barber and John Lewis, who had performed together on a good number of the original tracks, including "Deception."
"Deception" is a reworking of George Shearing's "Conception," which Davis had performed at Birdland a month before his Birth of the Cool recording, captured in a live broadcast with Stan Getz. The 1950 Nonet rendition was dominated by two run-throughs of the arranged section, with limited solo space available for only Davis and J.J. Johnson. While the "Re-Birth" interpretation follows the same arrangement, its longer length allows time for solos by Roney, Mulligan and Woods, as well as brief fills by bassist Dean Johnson and trombonist Dave Bargeron. The lithe theme, the woven lines of the trumpet and alto parts, and the intricate and pleasing ensemble harmonies are all superbly executed. Roney's warm, logically built solo is Miles-like, as is his wont. Mulligan is probing and inquisitive, while Woods is more biting and urgent, thanks to his darting runs and broad vibrato.
Reviewer: Scott Albin