Gerry Mulligan: Night Lights (1963) Philips UK

Track Selection 1: Prelude in E Minor (Frédéric Chopin)

. . .

Track Selection 2: Morning of the Carnival (Manhã de Carnaval, from Black Orpheus, Luiz Bonfa)

. . .

Artists

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

Music

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.

Great!

Cover Art

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.

 

 

Liner Notes

 

Collector’s Corner

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)

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10 thoughts on “Gerry Mulligan: Night Lights (1963) Philips UK

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  2. Pingback: Gerry – Melvin's Foolish Things

  3. I recently picked up this album on a Dutch Mercury pressing. Although I don’t have the original to compare it to, this pressing sounds pretty great in my opinion. You know it’s a great album when you really don’t know what to play after it! That’s the only way I can think of to describe how enjoyable it was…

  4. LJC, another little treasure well spotted. Although I have some Mulligan, this wasn’t amongst them — until today. I just picked up a Philips Wing copy for a fiver which oddly looks a little unlike all the cover variants you show. Bottom right has a Philips ‘star’ logo over the graphic, and top right has a ‘Wing’ logo. I’m guessing that Wing are slightly later represses.

    Whatever the case, this is, as you quite rightly said, exceptionally beautiful late night jazz, and superbly recorded. The surprise track — because it works like a dream is Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, the opener on side 2.

    A record I wouldn’t have considered without your prompt.

  5. Wonderful!

    I have this one as an Eastern German pressing on the Amiga label, in stereo (1984, maybe). It is easily one of the best sounding records I own. I think they got their tapes from West Germany in Hamburg and managed to make a flawless pressing.

    The cover is not so nice, though, sporting a 1970s photo of Mulligan, the one he used on the The Age of Steam” cover.

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