Track Selection 1: Prelude in E Minor (Frédéric Chopin)
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Track Selection 2: Morning of the Carnival (Manhã de Carnaval, from Black Orpheus, Luiz Bonfa)
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Art Farmer (tp, flh) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Gerry Mulligan (p, bars) Jim Hall (g) Bill Crow (b) Dave Bailey (d) recorded Nola’s Penthouse Sound Studios, NYC, September 12 and October 3, 1963
One of the highlights of mainstream modern jazz to accompany the small hours and a dry martini: late nights were made for this. AllMusic compliment it as “pleasing and laid-back” but Cook and Morton give a better account: ” A Mulligan session marked out by superior playing from both Farmer and Brookmeyer. Mulligan is somewhat muted as he concentrates on filling out the middle of the orchestration. Hall is the key to the whole thing, endlessly inventive and subtle, who takes great chances without fanfare ” A first class sextet with a restrained contribution from the leader.
Several tracks lay down a soothing Samba-accented beat, in newly fashionable Brazilian flavour. The later jazz flirtation with the hotter Bossa Nova has not worn as well over time, but the Mulligan temperature here is just right, passing the midnight test without demure. Chopin’s Prelude in E minor was a surprise – I didn’t know Chopin did Samba, the Warsaw Concerto meets Come Dancing, but it works well.
Sixties retro cover! Picture on the wall!
Middle-brow semi-abstract art, a view from the Sixties of what was “modern” art, without being in any way “difficult”. The sort of thing your mum might have put on the wall above the sofa to give the sitting room a modern feel, replacing the souvenir painting from her first holiday abroad on the Costa Brava
The liner notes aspire to literary pretensions – “the air was sweet, the cigarette was shared…” as the musicologist gives way to the copywriter, lifestyle is born.
Vinyl: Philips BL 7597 – UK mono first pressing
The quality of Philips pressings for their own Philips label I have generally found a little flat and lifeless compared to their pressings for Riverside and Fontana, however Philips have done a good job here.
The Matrix –
UK Philips pressing for the Philips label, code 420.
I was sceptical of the price asked in a London shop, but was assured “it sells for surprisingly high price” more than you would expect for “another Mulligan”, because it is no ordinary Mulligan.The most valued copies are unsurprisingly M- white label promos which fetch up to $200, and the US Stereo release hit $100. Then there are the UK, Japanese, and Philips own budget label “Wing” releases at a more reasonable price.
Popsike turned up US mono, US Stereo, Mercury/Wing, Japanese, and European Stereo blue label, all in addition to the UK Philips, all of whom lay claim to being “rare” and “an original”.
You pay your money, you make your choices. Being a white label promo is no indication of who has played it on what in the last fifty years, but can be an assurance that it was one of the first pressings off the stampers, and may, just may, have lain dormant for a few decades in a DJ library.
(Pictures updated June, 2017)