Saturday, August 24, 2019

ARLYNE BROWN MULLIGAN - The Gordon Jack Interview

© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“Arlyne Brown arrived on the scene from New York. She was the daughter of the great Lew Brown and she and Gerry had known each other for years. It seemed that within a matter of days Arlyne had taken over and become Gerry’s manager with the intention of showing him the way to a new life. She was a real New Yorker and man, was she strong that woman.”
- Carson Smith, bassist in The Gerry Mulligan Quartet


“She took her job very seriously, being very protective of him which some people mistook for bossiness. Martha Glazer had taken Erroll Garner from being an unknown pianist to the top of the world and Arlyne perceived a similar role for herself with Gerry. She helped him get out of jail in 1953 and stuck by him when it was necessary and whatever her faults she was primarily concerned about Gerry at the expense of everything else.”
- Dave Bailey, drummer in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and Sextet


“We failed almost completely to converse with the star of the show Gerry Mulligan and it was here that we realised that the Gerry Mulligan Quartet is in effect a Quintet. The fifth member, Gerry’s wife and personal manager Arlyne threw an almost impenetrable screen around Mulligan She cut short his conversations with journalists and French musicians and spent most of her husband’s on-stage appearances in directing photographers and leading the audience applause from a visible position in the wings of the stage.”
- Alun Morgan, British author and critic at the 1954 Paris Jazz Fair


Gordon Jack is a frequent contributor to the Jazz Journal and a very generous friend in allowing JazzProfiles to re-publish his insightful and discerning writings on these pages.


Gordon is the author of Fifties Jazz Talk An Oral Retrospective and he also developed the Gerry Mulligan discography in Raymond Horricks’ book Gerry Mulligan’s Ark.


The following article was first published in Jazz Journal May 16 - June 20 and July 25, 2019.


For more information and subscriptions please visit www.jazzjournal.co.uk


© -Gordon Jack/JazzJournal, copyright protected; all rights reserved; used with the author’s permission.


Arlyne Brown (songwriter Lew Brown’s daughter) was married to Gerry Mulligan during the fifties and for a while she was also his personal manager. Jean Bach arranged for this interview which took place in 2001 at the small town of Celebration in Florida where Arlyne was happy to share memories of those days.


“I was 20 in 1947 and an English major in college when I first met Gerry Mulligan. I used to dance to Vaughn Monroe but I had never heard jazz in my life although my father had some Louis Armstrong records and he liked the Andrews Sisters. I had just married Buddy Arnold the tenor player who is now running the drug programme for the musician’s union (1). We were married on the fly is the only way to describe it and then went on the road with Buddy Rich’s band with people like Al Cohn, Earl Swope and Gene Di Novi – a beautiful band. I soon realised that Buddy was a nice section player but no great shakes as a soloist. I travelled with them sewing buttons on band jackets and doing little ‘wifely’ things but when we got back to New York it seemed as though everyone left to join Woody Herman who was reforming his band. I was not happy in my marriage. Buddy was a nice guy and he kept saying - You think there’s another layer but this is all there is - which was not enough for me. I wanted more depth. I was hooked on notoriety, fame and people being outstanding I suppose because of the way I’d been raised.


“I remember hearing Dizzy Gillespie around that time in a club on 52nd. Street about the size of a large bathroom. He was there with a big band and it was magnificent. Dizzy and I became very close but then everyone became close to Dizzy.


“Gerry was better known as a writer then but he did play a lot at Don Jose’s studio. It was a fourth floor walk-up on West 49th. Street between Broadway and 8th. Avenue where everyone would chip in 50 cents for the evening. Gerry, Brew Moore and Zoot would be there with their friends and if they let you play you could pat yourself on the back because you’d arrived – you were accepted. I was dating Brew at the time. After we broke up I went home to my parents and started going out with nice middle-class Jewish boys – not jazz musicians.


 “One day I called Gerry to ask if he knew where Johnny Andrews was. It was a pretext really. He said – No but I’m here, why don’t you come over? Johnny had played with Buddy in the Thornhill orchestra and he was a lovely fellow and we’d been friendly (2). 


“Gerry and I started a romance at that point – walks in Central Park etc. etc. He had a basement apartment in the West 70s with a piano, a hot plate and a fridge. I don’t know how I adjusted so fast because I’d come out of nine rooms on Park Avenue but we were young, I suppose. He told me to get a job because he had to write by himself and he couldn’t have me around all the time. He wanted me to break up with Buddy but there was no talk of marriage at that time. I had lovely in-laws and my family and Buddy’s family were very friendly. Also Gerry was hooked and had been for quite a while already. He was a Catholic boy and I was a nice Jewish girl and I panicked. I told him that I just couldn’t do this anymore. Gerry just said – Well that’s OK then. I’m going on the road with Claude Thornhill. Goodbye. - and off he went! I left for Texas with Buddy because I was trying to save the marriage.


“In the meantime Brew Moore went into Lexington. When he came out we met in Charley’s Tavern or one of those musicians’ bars and started a very big romance. He was a soft, sweet southern boy looking like a combination of Leslie Howard and James Dean. He had an enormous talent and should have been far more successful but he was about as messed up as you could get – just like nearly everyone else during that period. He and Gerry were very close.


“Gerry came back from the road and decided to make another attempt with me. Brew was cutting my hair at that point and he had cut it very short like it is now. I previously had a page-boy and Gerry didn’t like it cut so short. All through our marriage he used to say – The problem really is that you’re Brew’s girl. After a while I didn’t argue anymore. I remember Tommy Allison said to me all the time – Don’t marry Gerry, marry Brew (3). Anyway about then I went home to my parents because of Brew’s problems. Years later in 1973 he died when he fractured his skull falling down some stairs. I was living in Florida and I opened the Miami Herald to read, ‘Aubrey Brew Moore dead in Copenhagen’. Gerry was living with Sandy Dennis and although it was five in the morning there I phoned him immediately. Sandy was a lovely person and as soon as she answered she gave the phone to Gerry who of course was terribly upset.


“Gerry arranged some charts for a Stan Getz record session in 1949. It also included Brew, Al Cohn, Zoot and Allen Eager but eventually he took Stan to the union because he never paid him for the arrangements. Stan was a terrible man. I remember his second wife asking me - Why doesn’t anyone like my Stanley? I said if you’ve got three or four hours, I’ll tell you. He once slept with the wife of one of his musicians and then called the guy into the bedroom to see. He had girls everywhere and came on to everything that moved. When I was married to Gerry he tried to come on to me just so he could tell Gerry about it afterwards. We went to a hotel and before things got too serious I just said, “Well good-bye Stanley” – his face was a picture. Gerry might have done some bad things but Stan was a bad man and there’s a difference.


“Eventually, Gerry went out to California and formed the quartet. I was friendly with Don Elliott but he was mad about a girl from Washington called Lois who was an exotic dancer. Things didn’t work out and she eventually married John Williams. I had been thinking a lot about Gerry so I phoned him at the Haig and he said, Will you please get the next plane and come out here and marry me? My girl-friend Jeffie Lee Boyd was a waitress at the club and she and Gerry were living together having been through some sort of ceremony (4). 


“This was around the time Gerry and Chet got arrested. Gerry had been using heroin so he turned himself in thinking he would be sent to Lexington because he wanted to get a cure. This was his mistake. Chet had only been using marijuana like practically everyone else so he said to Gerry, if you’re owning up to the heroin go for the pot too (5). 


I flew out and when I saw him at the airport I knew he was strung out but the quartet carried on working until the trial took place. Gerry and I got married at the Beverly Hills judge’s office on the 8 May 1953 and one of our witnesses was Doe Mitchell, Red’s wife. At the Haig that night Miles Davis kissed me passionately, sticking his tongue down my throat and then ran around saying, What kind of woman has Gerry married? She just stuck her tongue down my throat (6). You know, when Miles first came to New York he was a very middle class black guy from St. Louis. Max Roach told him he was oppressed which was news to Miles. He never knew he was oppressed until Max told him. Gerry wrote a lot of charts for the Birth of the Cool group – they were really Gerry’s sessions not Miles’. When I phoned home to tell my mother I was married she said – Who is it this time? – Mulligan, Mulligan that’s not a Jewish Name. We spent the early part of our marriage driving to gas stations meeting pushers to pick up heroin.


“Prior to going to court I had to get the cheque book, the house and car keys although in California I couldn’t drive. After Gerry was sentenced Chet drove me home and proceeded to use my bedroom with his girl-friend while I sat in the living room. I began working on Gerry’s release but it took a few months. He was in an Honour Farm with signs everywhere – ‘Welcome Gerry Mulligan’ but I think he must have sassed someone because the next thing I knew he was in solitary confinement. In the meantime he had been asked to write a Thanksgiving show for the sheriff’s department. I found out that if your husband is in solitary you can confiscate all his possessions until he is back in the general population. I arrived at the warden’s office and told him I wanted everything including the music Gerry was writing for the show which is when he got out of solitary. Carson Smith was very nice and either he or Jeffie Lee used to drive me when I visited Gerry (7).


“He was released on Christmas Eve 1953 and all he wanted was some junk to be waiting for him. He was going to quit but it had to be in his own time. I think Zoot was around and he would have got him something. I was very close to Zoot – he was a sweetheart and a very honourable man with a good sense of humour. Of course he was Gerry’s closest friend. They had been friends from the early days when they would get stoned together. They would just sit around, turn on and listen to music. The musical component was what was important even with Zoot – it was all music. Years later when Gerry and I had broken up Zoot was staying with me in California. Gerry called me up and said – You’ve got to stop him drinking. I walked into the kitchen and Zoot was standing there stark naked pouring vodka into orange juice. He tried to convince me that orange juice was all it was. Al Cohn of course was quite different, he was a prince and just like Gerry he was an intellectual. 


“When Gerry came out of the Honour Farm I was there when he met Chet Baker on the street in Hollywood. Chet demanded $500.00 a week to stay with Gerry although the quartet had only been making $1200.00 when they were at the Haig.  Gerry was heartbroken. I blame Dick Bock for the break-up of the quartet because he had been filling Chet’s head about forming his own group and Chet was never a leader. He was a nice boy with a very limited mentality. Somebody asked him what he thought about and he said – I try very hard not to think. He used to run with a whole bunch of high-school friends – a little entourage. They were all beach-types and quite different to Gerry.


“Gerry had just recorded the tentette when I arrived in California. The first few nights we were together he played the album all the time although it hadn’t been released yet. It’s a lovely album and I was so impressed. I always thought the tentette was his best ever band even better than the CJB. After his release he did a concert at the Embassy theatre in downtown L.A. with the tentette and the quartet (8). I had been dating Mel Torme’ so Gerry asked him to appear at the concert but he wanted what seemed to us to be too much money - $1000.00. We wanted him there but for that price we told him to forget it as we already had a sold-out house. He came to the concert but he didn’t perform. Mel and I stayed friends until just about the end. 


“This was Gerry’s first public appearance since his release and he came onstage as the conquering hero – the crowd went wild, you’d have thought he was Elvis Presley. I’d never seen anything like it, they went berserk – just an explosion of love. He’d been in Time Magazine and he had a full page in Harper’s Bazaar. My mother proudly showed it to all her friends, That’s my son-in-law Gerry Mulligan.


“He was getting offers like crazy but he said he wouldn’t take the quartet on the road unless I managed it so I took over as Gerry’s manager and being Lew Brown’s daughter I helped negotiate better fees for the group. I got a lot of players for Gerry including Denzil Best who never recorded with the group (9). Of course a great deal of harm was done to my marriage by people saying to him, You’d be nothing without her. No man wants to hear that. He was 25 when we got married and when we first dated he was not even 20 – he had very little experience.


“We went on the road in 1954 with Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Anthony and Frank Isola living out of suitcases. We never had a place of our own until later and the only time we were not working was when we were travelling to the next job (10). At the Paris Jazz Fair in June the whole band quit the first night but it didn’t last because most of them stayed (11). Gerry was not an easy man in those days but I don’t think he was always wrong.  He used to say, When I take my horn out of my mouth I put my foot in it.  It was his group and he wanted to make sure things were done his way.


“Bobby was always very dramatic. At one point in Washington he threw his trombone out of a hotel window. He and Gerry both had very good senses of humour and when we were on the road together it was a riot. They got on well and they respected each other’s playing. I knew people who were very friendly with Red Mitchell but I had more of a  distant friendship with him because he was not very outgoing unlike his brother Whitey. Later on we had Bill Crow who is a lovely, lovely man – he’s a gem. I used to nag him when we were in Europe because he never saw anything, he always had a camera in front of his face. Frank Isola was with us for most of 1954 and he was a very nice man. Gerry always wrote for particular musicians and a good example of that is when Osie Johnson was on the band. For some reason Osie couldn’t make a record date so Gus Johnson was there. Gerry tore the chart up saying, I wrote it for Osie not Gus. ‘Young Blood’ won an award the year he wrote it for Kenton. Stan begged Gerry to write some more for the band but he refused – You didn’t play it the way I wrote it so I won’t do anything more for you. He once went to a rehearsal with Benny Goodman, listened for a while then collected his chart and walked out.


“After the Paris Jazz Fair, Red and Frank remained and Tony Fruscella joined us. He was married to Morgana King who I still hear occasionally. She was in the Godfather and was excellent in it but her acting career never seemed to work out. Tony of course wasn’t very bright, he played well but Gerry didn’t keep him. Jon Eardley took over and he was a nice player – Gerry liked him (12). I was getting record dates although Gerry had been recording for Dick Bock. As a matter of fact we could have bought half of Pacific Jazz for $3000.00 but Gerry didn’t have that kind of money.


“When Gerry and I were together we always paid well. He used to say, What’s the difference? Let’s give it to the guys instead of the government. That’s why the thing with Chet was so ridiculous. We didn’t want the boys staying in flea-holes on the road.  I used to be up until 4 a.m. after the gig, cooking fried chicken and all kinds of things. George Avakian once said, Thank God you’re the Jew and he’s the Irishman – he didn’t want to be eating Irish Stew.


“We were both staunch Democrats and in 1956 campaigned like crazy for Adlai Stevenson when he ran against Ike. Later on Gerry was at the White House for some affair during Kennedy’s term and I remember the President wanted to drive Gerry’s Jag.


“We once went to see Bud Powell at a recording date. He had been institutionalised and he was there with his carer who used to be the bouncer at Birdland. There was talk of Gerry and Bud recording together but Bud would do insane things and then have a perfectly intelligent musical conversation with Gerry about what songs they would perform – a real split personality. Gerry did a date with my good friend Annie Ross who I am very fond of but she has her own problems. She’s working again with Jon Hendricks but he doesn’t pay her enough, or on time.


“Gerry was already cheating on me when Bob [Brookmeyer] and I started our romance - You’re having an affair with him? – he finally noticed! What did he think we were doing?  


Gerry insisted I invite Bob round for dinner which is when he said, How could you have an affair with my wife? Bob replied, To have a wife you have to be a husband. I’ve been on the road with you and you’re no husband. Gerry was pretty shocked of course. 


Unfortunately Bob had a drinking problem which didn’t affect his playing but it did affect the rest of his life which is why we broke up. We were together for a couple of years but I just couldn’t go through all that again. I thought we might get married – he kept proposing, then breaking up with me then proposing again until I got totally fed up. He married a number of times over the years. He can be very pontifical but we are very close and have remained so over the years. 


“I was friendly with Gil Evans and when Gerry and I first had problems I called him up because they were friends of course but he couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to help. With Gerry it was always music, music, music. He never asked anyone in his life, How are you feeling? How’s your wife? How are the kids? Nothing like that. He only wanted to know if your horn was in good shape or where can we get some reeds? etc. etc. His relationships with me, Judy and Sandy were all unimportant in comparison to his relationships with musicians. He also had an affair with Georgia Brown. She moved in right after Gerry and I broke up and it was my good friend Jeffie Lee who introduced them. I had to pay her off to get rid of her. We were all young then but at this age I wouldn’t have cared.


“My father died in February 1958 just as we were beginning to break up and all of a sudden I had money of my own. We had always thought that if we could afford it we would buy a large house in New York where Gerry could have a studio. He also wanted to study larger forms with Darius Milhaud. It was so sad the way things happened. 
This was when he became keen on Judy Holliday who was a sweetheart and immensely talented. He called me to say they were getting married. She had just had a mastectomy so I told him to slow down – he was a man who couldn’t stand a broken nail. As you know they never did marry. All through their romance Gerry was around me all the time.  He wouldn’t sign divorce papers. He wouldn’t do this, he wouldn’t do that. In 1958 he went out to play the Monterey Jazz Festival and Brew was supposed to play a set with him but he walked off the stage because of the way Gerry was treating me. Brew once said, You treat her real well or you’ll hear from me.


“He did try to win me back but he did something that was really horrendous when Judy was doing ‘Bells Are Ringing’ on Broadway. He called and took me out for an elegant dinner and romanced the hell out of me. We went back to the Algonquin where he was staying and went to bed. Afterwards he got up because he had to pick Judy up after the show. I went home and tried to commit suicide. This was a man who knew me better than anyone, yet he could do something like that to me. I knew that he would think I would understand because it was Judy Holliday. After the psychiatrists had finished with me I told him I wanted a divorce. He said, I’ll talk to you when you’re thinking clearly. I told him I had never been thinking more clearly (13).


“After Judy died I thought we would probably work our way back together but when he started with Sandy Dennis I knew that was it. The rumour was that they had got married which was completely unfounded. She used to ‘phone me and cry all the time because 
Gerry could be difficult. One Christmas Eve he came to my house and said, I’ll spend the night so I can be here tomorrow for Reed but I wouldn’t let him (14).


“You have to remember Gerry had been on the road from when he was fifteen or sixteen. He never finished high-school but that was his life – he wanted to be on the road. The last home we had was on 58th. Street right opposite The Composer which is where we brought Reed home after he was born. I really felt he should have had his due and I felt in the last few years he didn’t. In some ways I regret that I didn’t continue managing him – maybe I shouldn’t have let him go so easily. He once called my mother saying, Ask Arlyne to forgive me. She said, Ask your mother to forgive you. Mothers forgive – wives don’t. She was hot stuff herself. My sister called saying, Mother is dying. You’d better come up. I flew up from Florida, walked in the room and she said, I must be dying – you came.”


As a postscript to this interview it is worth quoting some of Arlyne’s comments from a lengthy March 1954 article she wrote for Theme magazine titled “Make Mine Mulligan” – Gerry’s music is a product of his peculiar puckish charm, his sense of humour that springs indomitably over any surroundings, his acute nervous tension, his basic personal integrity and his musical awareness. But there comes a moment when a man puts his horn in his mouth or his pen to paper and he is alone. It is at this moment that we may discern – can he blow? Can he write? I think that it is apparent that the listening public has already determined that Gerry does both successfully.


NOTES


(1) Buddy Arnold also worked with Tex Beneke, Claude Thornhill, Buddy DeFranco and Stan Kenton. He died in 2003. Gene Allen got to know Arlyne when Buddy was with Thornhill. She had been to college and being very clever tried to educate all the jazz musicians about their behaviour. She later married Gerry Mulligan and I remember their small son Reed coming to the Village Vanguard on a Sunday matinee and doing a little dance in front of the CJB which was very charming. There is a Sy Johnson photo of Reed with his father in the booklet accompanying the Mosaic CJB release - MD4-221.


(2) Johnny Andrews played tenor with Claude Thornhill through most of 1949 but then disappeared at least as a recording artist.


(3) Trumpeter Tommy Allison worked with Boyd Raeburn, Gene Krupa, Johnny Bothwell, Buddy Rich and Charlie Barnet.


(4) Jeffie Lee Boyd became a showgirl in Las Vegas and around 1960 married the notorious gangster ‘Crazy’ Joey Gallo. He was murdered in a restaurant in New York’s Little Italy in 1972 and Bob Dylan dedicated a song to him in 1976 called simply Joey. Their daughter became a successful lawyer in California. Gallo was Charles Mingus’ manager briefly in 1958.


(5) The Los Angeles Mirror published a photo of Mulligan, Jeffie Lee Boyd, Baker and Charlaine Souder (Chet’s girl-friend) at the police station. Mulligan was arrested and took the blame for both the heroin and the marijuana. Jeffie’s mother posted his bail.


(6) Walter Hopps in his book, “The Dream Colony” mentions another occasion when Miles visited the Haig. “In the middle of a song Mulligan suddenly stopped playing and announced, Ladies and gentlemen we have just had the great honour of seeing Miles Davis enter the room. Everyone turned around and there was Miles smiling because he and Mulligan were friends. Gerry saw that he was not carrying a horn so he said, “Mr Baker will you give your horn to Mr Davis? The young man gave his trumpet over to the master. They played the rest of the evening while Baker sat dutifully at one of the tables listening. Not long after that Mulligan had to go to the sheriff’s honour farm because he was caught with marijuana or something”.


(7) Carson Smith told me, Arlyne Brown arrived on the scene from New York. She was the daughter of the great Lew Brown and she and Gerry had known each other for years. It seemed that within a matter of days Arlyne had taken over and become Gerry’s manager with the intention of showing him the way to a new life. She was a real New Yorker and man, was she strong that woman.


(8) This might have been arranged by Gene Norman who was working as Gerry’s manager at the time


(9) James Gavin in his Chet Baker biography points out that Mulligan was happy to give her complete authority.  His standard reply to every request at the time was, I don’t know man. Talk to Arlyne. Drummer Dave Bailey told me, She took her job very seriously, being very protective of him which some people mistook for bossiness. Martha Glazer had taken Erroll Garner from being an unknown pianist to the top of the world and Arlyne perceived a similar role for herself with Gerry. She helped him get out of jail in 1953 and stuck by him when it was necessary and whatever her faults she was primarily concerned about Gerry at the expense of everything else. After they broke up Dave took over as the road manager.


(10) Bill Anthony was replaced by Red Mitchell in March.


(11)  Alun Morgan who attended the Paris Jazz Fair had this to say about the formidable Arlyne, We failed almost completely to converse with the star of the show Gerry Mulligan and it was here that we realised that the Gerry Mulligan Quartet is in effect a Quintet. The fifth member, Gerry’s wife and personal manager Arlyne threw an almost impenetrable screen around Mulligan She cut short his conversations with journalists and French musicians and spent most of her husband’s on-stage appearances in directing photographers and leading the audience applause from a visible position in the wings of the stage.


(12) Jon Eardley was appearing at the Open Door in Greenwich Village when the Mulligans were in the audience. Arlyne apparently asked the trumpeter how many white shirts he had. On being told he had three or four she took him over to Gerry who asked him if he would like to join the quartet. They opened three days later in Baltimore.


(13) According to Sanford Josephson’s brief biography of Gerry Mulligan – Jeru’s Journey - they divorced in 1959. For such a major figure, there have been very few books published on Mulligan. In 1986 Raymond Horricks wrote a short appreciation which he expanded in 2003 to include a discography. Jerome Klinkowitz’s 1991 overview of his recordings is a very useful reference but what is really needed is a comprehensive, in-depth biography of the great man. Unfortunately the wait goes on because Jeru’s Journey published in 2015 is not it.


(14) Reed Brown Mulligan was born 10 February 1957. 

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