Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Nordic Bop - Pekka Pylkkanen and Eric Ineke

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


“I am very happy that after all these years we finally have this album finished! We had a great time recording the music (and even now, when working on finalizing it). I'm looking forward to playing with you all again, hopefully in the very near future! I will let Eric tell the story of this album....”

- Pekka Pylkkanen

In 1962, thanks to the efforts of producers Bob Prince and George Avakian, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond recorded an album entitled Two of a Mind for RCA Victor.

The title came to mind [pun intended] with the arrival from drummer Eric Ineke of the Nordic Bop [Challenge CR73542] CD which he recently recorded in Finland with saxophonist Pekka Pylkkanen. On it, Eric and Pekka are joined by pianist Mikael Jacobsson and bassist Heikko Remmel.

“Two of a Mind” is a germane phrase to describe the relationship between Eric and me, not only because we both play drums, but also because we have a deep and abiding interest in the music generally characterized as Bebop. 

Perhaps a more accurate description of the style of Jazz we share a passion for might be straight-ahead Jazz which is supported by a no-nonsense, always swinging, driving beat.

It’s the music we both grew up listening to and it has influenced the way we approach playing drums.  And I daresay, besides his talent as a drummer, it’s another reason why Eric is in such great demand both as a teacher and as a player throughout Europe with younger musicians who want to experience playing Jazz with this kind of time feel.

The heart of it from a drumming perspective is setting down or, if you will, laying down a groove on the ride cymbal which is heavily accented by the hi-hat and creating a driving swing behind the soloist. The emphasis here is accompaniment and not playing a parallel solo behind the horn soloist by keeping up a constant barrage of rhythmic figures all over the drum kit [think Tony Williams and Elvin Jones; not stated in a disrespectful manner].

The straight-ahead time feel can be punctuated with occasionally sticking on the snare drum and/or with bass drum accents, but the point of it all is backing up and supporting the soloist and, where necessary, adding color to the sound of the music with percussion effects.

Having learned his craft by studying the masters such as Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones, Eric has gone on to become the living embodiment of this approach to Jazz drumming and is constantly in demand in his native Holland throughout Europe as a practitioner of this form of the Jazz drummer’s art.

Since Eric knows I have a predisposition to his preferences he is generous in sharing with me recordings on which he performs that feature like-minded musicians.

Which brings me to Pekka Pylkkanen and Nordic Bop. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and has been on my CD player ever since.

The idea for the recording, the tracks which comprise it and the background of the composers are all spelled out in Eric’s insert notes which are shared below.

But before directing your attention to them, I thought I would share my impressions of the music and the musicians that make up this very fine album.

What initially struck me upon hearing Pekka for the first time is the full searing tone he gets on alto saxophone and the marvelous facility he has that enables him to really get around the instrument. Wails, moans, and cries are all part of his expressive presentation - it’s a sound that is at once rich and penetrating - it reaches you with its fullness.

It’s interesting that the CD should open with alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce’s Nica's Tempo because in some ways Pekka’s orientation on the instrument brings to mind Gigi’s: both are hard-driving, no-nonsense players with a legacy on the instrument that is straight out of Charlie Parker.

And just when you thought you had a handle of Pekka’s approach, he pulls out his soprano sax and completely surprises you with a totally different orientation characterized by a big, wide sound, a hint of a vibrato, and complex harmonics from Coltrane but yet somehow sounding original to him because of the way he puts them together. This all comes forth so beautifully in Pekka's treatment of the Bill Evans classic waltz, Very Early. One could almost wish that his soprano sax interpretation of Denny Zeitlin’s Quiet Now were also on the recording.

And speaking of accompaniment, for one so young, pianist Mikael Jacobsson does a superior job of supporting the soloist with minimal chordal intrusions. During his own solos he rides the rhythm section, leaving lots of space allowing the piano to resonate. His intervallic approach enables him to play more modern sounding improvisations over traditional bebop lines.

Bassist Heikko Remmel is a rock; you never have to “look” for the time, all you have to do is listen to him and there it is encased in a big, booming bass sound. Eric’s unobtrusive style of playing allows the bass to really come through on this recording and it “locks in” nicely to generate a wonderfully “alive” time feel by the rhythm section.

And then, of course, there is Eric holding it all together and pushing things forward in his unrelenting but always tasteful manner. His drums sound wonderful, full of the snap and crackle very reminiscent of the great Roy Haynes and cymbals with pronounced stick clicks that create the propulsive swing that is so characteristic of his drumming.

Everything about this recording merits your attention from the interesting selection of tunes, the intense, yet well-paced improvisations, and the classic, straightforward sense of swing that encapsulates the music and provides it with an energetic drive.

More about the players and the music are contained in the following insert notes by Eric.

“When Pekka Pylkkanen invited me in 2017 to play a couple of concerts with him in Finland and Estonia, I immediately responded with an enthusiastic YES!! Having played together before, I knew the music would be great and swinging! On piano, we had the pleasure of having the wonderful and hard-swinging piano player Mikael Jakobsson from Finland and the young and very talented bass player Heikko Remmel from Tallinn, Estonia.

Pekka got the idea of putting together a repertoire of tunes written by some of the great Jazz legends I played with during my earlier career. During the concerts, we all felt that it worked out really well and that we should at least put some of the repertoire in the can for the right moment to release it on CD.

Well, that moment came five years later. Recorded in this beautiful studio of the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts in Helsinki; a real straight-ahead swinging Jazz album finally saw the light. I have a close connection with at least five of the tunes, because I toured in the past with their composers.

'Amsterdam after Dark' is written by the legendary tenor saxophonist George Coleman. I had the pleasure of playing with him for a week in 1974, together with Rob Agerbeek and Rob Langereis, and it was an incredible experience: George was at the top of his game every night. Luckily one of the concerts was recorded and got released years later, on the Blue Jack Label.

'Luminescence' brought me back to the eminent professor of Bop, Mr. Barry Harris. For more than 15 years I backed him up when he came to teach (always for a week) at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. One of those concerts was recorded and also released on CD. I have great memories of working with him when we played for a week in St Petersburg in Russia during the White Nights Festival in 2007. Playing with Barry was a true education in Bebop!

'Left Alone' was written by pianist Mai Waldron whom I played with at a festival in Belgium in the nineties with the Ben van den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet. This very quiet man and profound musician, combined with this furious Hard Bop quintet was an unforgettable experience.

'Montmarte', written by the great Dexter Gordon, brings back to me one of the best experiences of my whole career. In 1972 I got a call from promoter Wim Wigt to go on an almost 3 months tour with this legendary giant together with the Rein de Graaff Trio. I was 25 years old and it was at that moment that I entered the University of Hard Bop!

'Signal' is a very hip and modern-sounding tune written by the legendary and impeccable guitar player Jimmy Raney. He recorded that tune in 1951 with Stan Getz at Storyville in Boston. That recording became a landmark and is still one of my all-time favorite albums! I was thrilled when I received a request from the producer Gerry Teekens in 1977 to play a radio concert in Lausanne with Jimmy and his son Doug Raney. They were on tour, and Jimmy had a serious argument with his drummer back then, whom Jimmy ended up firing, so I was in. 

From the first note we played at the soundcheck, Jimmy gave me a look and smiled at me, and after the concert he told me he really liked my playing very much. That led me to do all his tours in Europe for the 3 consecutive years, as well as the first recording for Criss Cross Records in 1981 (called 'Raney 81’) with his son Doug and the great Danish bass player Jesper Lundgaard. All those great moments with these legendary giants are with me all the time, and I am very happy and thankful that Pekka took this initiative to get this wonderful project together!


Eric Ineke

Monday, March 20, 2023

Part 2 - The Gerry Mulligan Quartet 1952-1953 Interviews by Gordon Jack

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


Larry Bunker was born in Long Beach, California, on November 4th, 1928, and joined the group after Chico Hamilton left to resume working with Lena Home. Chico described Larry's playing to me this way: "He is a good player. On some of those records, I can't always tell if it's him or me playing."

I had already met Gerry before I joined the group and played with him at a few sessions. I had also worked with Chet at a club in Inglewood where Harry Babasin ran things. Of course I knew Chico casually and had seen him play around town, but we were not particular friends, because we traveled in different circles. I had already seen the quartet a few times when Gerry asked me to replace Chico, and I thought it was an interesting concept. I was bowled over by Chet particularly, and if truth be told, I was a bigger fan of Chet than I was of Gerry. I don't know why the group was so popular with the public, but it seemed to be the right thing at the right time. There was an enormous influx of musicians who had recently left the Kenton and Herman bands, and suddenly the whole "West Coast Jazz" thing seemed to start. Gerry, with his sensibility and musicality, showed up right in the midst of that, and soon there were lines around the block at the Haig to hear the quartet.

I don't remember rehearsing with them before joining; I just started immediately at the club. I could learn the material from the records, but there wasn't that much to learn really, because nearly everything, even Gerry's originals, was in a song format — AABA. They had their repertoire down, and it was up to me to jump in and chug along, but it was difficult at first. I was so oriented to what a rhythm section with a piano should sound like that it took some getting used to, but the transparency became very appealing and I liked it. Gerry, Chet, and Carson, who was a good bass player, had some kind of magic chemistry in delineating the harmonic structure with just three voices, so that after a while I didn't miss the piano.6 Of course Gerry's abilities as an accompanist were very important, because he and the bass outlined the harmonic structure while Chet was playing. Gerry would indicate the notes of the chord, but Chet's approach while playing backgrounds to Gerry was very different: much more linear and across the changes.

There wasn't very much sitting in, but I remember when Stan Getz and Bob Brookmeyer were playing at the Tiffany, Gerry went over to visit Stan and came back raving — raving—about Bob. Those guys would take it in turns sitting in with us, and Gerry would go over there to play with them on intermissions. Lee Konitz of course played with us, and I seem to remember Oscar Pettiford sitting in on cello.7

I was with Gerry from January to June 1953, and that was my only job: six nights a week with Mondays off. I never sent in a dep, even though I was starting to get into the freelance field of recording in films and early T.V. That was daytime stuff, so I didn't have to take any nights off. I got along with him O.K., although we never talked about art, literature, politics, or the issues of the day. He was very bright and he was aware that he was very bright and he could use that to knock you off balance, which made him a bit intimidating. Although we didn't hang out together, he was nice enough to me—friendly, though not overly so. I showed up and played, did what I was told, and took the money — but I had a good time. He and Chet were both a little bit into the drug thing, which didn't seem to impair their ability to perform. I have never done drugs. I had my own little bout with the bottle, but not drugs. If you are not a "druggie" and you are hanging out with people who are, they can manifest an "outsider" thing to you. no matter how nicely it's done. Even then, and I was only twenty-five years old, I had known too many people who were dear to me found face down in the gutter, dead from an O.D., so I was petrified of any of that.

As for Chet. he was a brilliantly talented juvenile delinquent and not someone I could get next to, because I couldn't abide his attitudes. He was married to a lovely lady named Charlene at the time, and he was just a chauvinistic pig to her. At intermissions, she would be waiting at the bar for him while he was in the back seat of someone's car with a groupie, and if she dared to ask where he had been, he would kick her ass. That didn't appeal to me, and whatever else he was interested in also didn't appeal to me. Sometimes he would come into work with his mouth all cut from having been in a fistfight during the day, but that was Chet. The paradox was that he could be incredibly sensitive in his playing. He was a more linear player than Gerry, probably because of his lack of technical knowledge about what he was doing; so much of it was a magical, intuitive thing. Even without piano harmony to guide him he could sail across the changes when they were merely implied. Some people thought he couldn't read music, but he certainly could, though not very proficiently. He had been in an army band, so he would have had to read marches, and in the few situations I was with him when he had to read, he did O.K. He couldn't read chord changes, though, and he didn't know what they were, except for that amazing ability he had that enabled him to hear where they went. Gerry was right on the money when he said, "Chet knew everything about chords; he just didn't know their names."

When other musicians realized that he didn't have any theoretical knowledge, they would sometimes try to get him at jam sessions by calling tunes in ridiculous keys that nobody was familiar with, hoping to trap him. They would try "Body and Soul" in G-flat, for instance, but it didn't matter at all, because they could have said Q-flat and Chet would still have been able to play it. After a while that all stopped, because the guys couldn't transpose that fast from their accustomed keys, so they were trapping themselves, but not Chet. They backed themselves into corners that they couldn't get out of, but he would just sail through all of it because he didn't have those kinds of constraints. His mental apparatus worked in a different way, and that was what was so amazing about him, the fact that he could do what he did with such limited theoretical knowledge.

Gerry, on the other hand, was enormously knowledgeable and skilled in harmonic structure and chord changes —all of that. He could solo in a very linear fashion as well, but he may have wanted to play in a more vertical way because we didn't have a piano. He played the piano sometimes himself, and although he wasn't a great pianist, he knew what he wanted to do on the instrument. On baritone he was amazing, but sometimes it was a little hard to play with him, especially on a double-time thing where he would blow so many notes that he would get behind the time. I would be scuffling along, trying to drag him with me, but that was because of that big, awkward horn he was playing. Unlike an alto or tenor, it takes a long time for the air to get through. I have great respect for him both as a writer and a player.

I remember he did something really wild when we recorded those tentet things. We rehearsed one of the pieces, and after we made a take on it, we listened to the playback. Gerry flopped down on the floor in the middle of the studio, concentrating in a really dramatic, Christ-like pose, with his arms outstretched and his eyes closed. When the recording was finished, he got up off the floor and said, "O.K., guys—pencils." He then proceeded to dictate a new road map for the chart, which completely rearranged it, and when he counted us in, it was like a brand new piece of music. His writing had a magical quality, and he probably influenced both Bill Holman and Bob Brookmeyer, because he was a fantastic arranger. He acquired a lot of his knowledge when he was very young, certainly before he was twenty, and if you examine his earlier music side by side with a Gil Evans chart, you can see they probably influenced one another. There are definite similarities in their chord voicings and ways of voice leading.

One of Gerry's originals on that tentet album was called "A Ballad," which I wanted to learn. After the album was released, I kept listening to it, and I asked him to play it for me on the piano. When I went behind him to see the voicings, he stopped playing immediately. "Oh no you don't," he said. "You have to learn it by hearing it." He knew I had good ears, so he wasn't going to show me the voicings; I had to learn them by hearing them. I was able to learn an enormous amount about harmonic structure from him, but I had to do it the hard way. The experience of working with Gerry Mulligan was very valuable in my own musical development.


The final piece in the jigsaw concerns Carson Smith again, who rejoined the quartet when Bob Whitlock left to go back home to Utah.

It was Christmas 1952 when I got back from the ninety-day tour with Billy May. I went straight to the Haig and saw Chet and Bob during their break. We went outside to smoke a little grass in Chet's car just as the cops drove by. That was Chet's first ever bust, and he took the fall because it was his car. A couple of days later, Gerry called and asked me to return to the group because Bob was leaving, and I stayed for the duration of the quartet with Chet. Mulligan of course was known as the driving force behind Miles's "Birth of the Cool" project. He was a very popular Wunderkind, and those first singles with Bob Whitlock were saturating the airwaves. Chet was initially unknown, but he was becoming a legend because he played so beautifully.

Weekends at the Haig, we had a line of about three hundred people waiting to get in, and all the jazz musicians in Hollywood came to hear us. I tend to play with my head down and eyes closed, and one night when I looked up. Miles Davis and Charles Mingus were standing next to me. I couldn't believe it! They had flown in from Manhattan just to hear the group. Oscar Pettiford sat in several times with us on cello, and he even had me sit down and play the instrument while he played bass, which was a laugh and a half, but it was fun. One of our regular customers every night after the second show at the Ambassador was Freddy Martin, who just loved us. I understand that he used to be a pretty good jazz tenor player. I saw everyone at the Haig at one time or another.

By the time I rejoined Gerry, we didn't rehearse much. I think in the six months I was with him, we might have had about four rehearsals for new material. He often introduced something new by just turning round on the stand and asking me if I knew it. One night he really stumped me, because he wanted to play "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," which I didn't know. He got madder than hell and, on the next break, he took me outside and told me that as a bass player I was supposed to know the repertoire. He finished up by saying that the next time he asked me if I knew a tune, I better know that tune! The following day I bought the sheet music—and learned it so well that I have been playing it as a solo ever since.

"Carson City Stage" was the only original I wrote for the group, and it was my biggest hit! Funnily enough, Gerry didn't like the tune but he loved the introduction, so the intro became the tune, which is all you hear. He decided on the title because he was good with words. I also wrote most of "Freeway," which is actually credited to Chet and not me, but you can't take credit for everything, can you? I used to stay at his house, partying all night, and then crash out on the sofa—"With a Chesterfield," as they say. One day Chet sang some little riffs which I played on his old beat-up piano. I wrote them on paper, adding a bridge which I was going to use for something else, and Gerry recorded "Freeway" while I was away with Billy May. Mostly, though, everything was Gerry's; we just followed him. He conceived the idea of the group and the arrangements, and although we had every opportunity, nobody contributed more than just serious playing. I wish I had known how to write in those days, but I didn't.

Gerry's abilities as an accompanist on the baritone was the most important factor as far as the group's success was concerned. I didn't miss the piano at all, because he had such an arranger's mind, he could always pick the best notes to back a soloist. The bass plays the bottom of the chord, and the most important harmonic note above is the seventh leading to the third, and Gerry was always right-on; I have never heard anyone play that way, and certainly nobody could have done it as well as Gerry.

While I was with him, I never sent in a dep. If I had, the only one he would have let me get away with was Joe Mondragon —but that is a whole different story, which I will get to later. Some of my favorite records had Lee Konitz with us. and his version of "Lover Man" is one of the best Konitz solos I ever heard. I'm still a big fan of Lee's. When Chico left to return to Lena because he couldn't turn down the money, some of the best drummers in town tried out, including, as I recall. Chuck Flores. Gerry just didn't seem to find anyone he liked until he heard Larry Bunker, and we all agreed that Larry had the best sound for the quartet. He was a marvelous player, especially on brushes, which that group needed. I had worked with him on Billy May's band when he took Alvin Stoller's place, and at first we didn't get along, but quite soon I realized what a great musician Larry was. He was a master percussionist and a very crisp drummer, whereas Chico was more of a showman, although I loved his "Jo Jones" style with the hi-hat.

Gerry was a bit of an oddball in those days because he was young, very tall, and probably didn't weigh more than ninety-five pounds! He was an imposing sight on the stand, with his huge baritone sax, which he loved to swing up and down while he played, if you remember, just like a bent straw. People were in awe of him, and when they sat down, they really paid attention to the music. Occasionally, though, we would get a table where customers were talking. He would stop everything and lecture the audience: "If you don't like what you came to hear, we would like you to leave right now." And the crowd would applaud him for it. We'd pick up without losing a beat and play the rest of the tune out. He didn't socialize much and I rarely saw him off the job, but Chet and I were the best of friends.

Chet was very sports-minded and, as everybody knows, he loved to race cars, not on the track but on the highway, and he scared the hell out of me many times. Once in San Francisco around 2 a.m. he showed me Lombard Street, which is a hill famous for the number of Z bends it has. We drove down there in what seemed like half a second flat, and it was so much fun, we did it two or three more times, until all the lights started going on around the neighborhood. We often went skinny-dipping after work, and I remember once, when we were leaving the Haig, he decided we should go skiing on Bear Mountain. We rented some skis, and although he had never skied in his life, he took off down the hill as though he had been born on them. Chet seemed to be good at everything, and the girls went crazy over him. He really knew how to have fun, and he lived life to its fullest, never wanting to miss out on anything. I know Chico has said that there were personal problems between him and Gerry, but I didn't witness any difficulties at all. Towards the end, just before Gerry got busted, they were living together, and I know Gerry loved Chet, and Chet felt that Gerry was one of the greatest musicians he had ever met.

In January 1953 Gerry recorded his tentet album with Joe Mondragon on bass instead of me. I knew that he loved Joe, as everybody did in the music business. Joe was a perfectionist who played beautifully, and I will never forget him, because he was always wonderful to me. I learnt a lot from him, and even though I was a complete unknown at the time, he used to send me as a sub if he couldn't make a record date. Anyway, one night at the club, Gerry seemed a little hostile to me and I asked him what the problem was. He said, "I've been really listening to you the last few nights, and I'm not getting the feeling I want. There is something wrong with this rhythm section because you and Larry aren't playing well together. I'm not happy and I'll be looking for a new bass player in the next few days, Carson; that's where it is right now." I told him that I thought we'd been playing better and better each night, but if there was something he wanted me to change, I would change it. He wouldn't listen, and I was heartbroken. Then it turned out that he had this tentet date and he started rehearsing with Joe Mondragon. I was there for each of the three nights they recorded at Capitol Studios, and it was magnificent. When I came to work after the last night, Gerry said, "Carson, you've been playing considerably better lately. I don't know what changed your attitude, but I like what you're doing, and I wish you'd stay with the group." That was the end of that! I've often thought about it, and I think that Gerry was unable to say to me, "You've been my bass player for a long time, but I want to use Joe Mondragon on a record date." He found it easier to fire me for three nights and then rehire me, and to this day I still laugh about it because we never had any problems.

Anne Baxter [actress], who was an adorable person, often came to hear us, and one night her agent asked if we would play at her birthday party. At the end of the night, at 2 a.m., we set off for her house in the Hollywood Hills, where we played for about an hour. She wined and dined us and couldn't do enough for us, because she loved the music. Later, I sat down at the piano and started fooling around with her score of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. She asked if I liked the piece, and when I told her it was one of my favorites, she insisted that I take the music home.

I remember arriving at the Haig one night to find that Gerry had eloped to Palm Springs with one of the waitresses, called Jeffie Lee Boyd. She was a friend of Dick Bock's, and I had tried to date her a few times, but I guess I wasn't her style. The marriage lasted for about a month before they had an annulment, and I could never figure it out, although I've heard several stories. We didn't know that Gerry was messing around with drugs, and one rumor was that he had gone down to Palm Springs to dry out and Jeffie was there to help. I don't know if I believe that or not, but it could be true, because it sure was a strange marriage! She was still working at the Haig when Gerry got busted, and shortly afterwards Arlyne Brown arrived on the scene from New York. She was the daughter of the great Lew Brown of the DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson songwriting team, 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!

One night, two plainclothes detectives named Hill and O'Grady came into the Haig and sat down right in front of the bandstand for two whole sets. Chet pulled me aside and told me they were cops and Hollywood was their beat. Their great fame came from going around busting celebrities like Robert Mitchum and Lenny Bruce and, let me add, they were a couple of assholes.

If the club hadn't been full, they would have arrested us there and then, but they waited until a quarter to two, when it was time to close the joint up. They herded us into the office and looked up our sleeves, checking for needle marks. I was bewildered, because I didn't know what they were talking about, but after checking Chet, Larry, and me, Gerry just broke down, saying, "I've been screwing around with drugs again," just like that. He didn't have to say a word, but he was like a beaten man. He took the cops to the house that he and Chet were renting in East Hollywood near Sunset Boulevard and Western, showed them his paraphernalia, and went off to jail in handcuffs. I know now that he was desperate to get away from the drug scene and that was the only way he knew how to do it.8

Gerry's lawyer kept the case bouncing around from court to court for a couple of months while we carried on playing at the Haig. By this time he and Arlyne were renting a tiny house in the Hollywood Hills. The night before his final court appearance, when he fully expected to get the case kicked out for good, we all went up to Gerry's place for a little party to cheer him on. The next day the judge gave him six months at the Sheriff's Honour Farm, and that was the end of the first Gerry Mulligan Quartet.9

The Honour Farm was in Saugus, which is about thirty miles out of L.A. on the road to San Francisco, and I was Arlyne's ride when she visited Gerry. He would arrange for me to see one of the other prisoners, usually a musician, while he and Arlyne spent their hour together."11 We all expected Gerry to reform the quartet when he was released, and in the meantime, Chet and I got to play with Charlie Parker for a while. We also did some things on our own with Russ Freeman and Bob Neel, because Dick Bock was preparing Chet to become a bandleader, although Chet didn't want to be a leader. We were keeping fairly busy, not busy-busy, but hanging in there and paying the rent. We were both astonished to find that, on the day Gerry was released, Arlyne picked him up and took him right to the airport. Somebody said his final remark was, "Good-bye, Los Angeles, you will never see me again."

It has been said that Gerry and Chet didn't get back together again because Chet wanted more money, but I was his closest friend and I never heard him talk about money. As long as he could have a little bit of weed every day, he was happy; money was the last thing he thought about. I will never figure out why they didn't get back together.

I did play with the group once more a few years later, in 1964, when Gerry organized a reunion at the Hollywood Bowl with Chet and Chico. At the last moment. Art Farmer took Chet's place, and when Gerry made the announcement, a lot of the audience assumed Chet was getting stoned somewhere, because by that time, he had a bad reputation as a junkie.

I think that Gerry, along with Duke, Gil Evans, and Bill Holman, was one of the best arranger/composers in jazz, and nobody will ever replace him. When it comes to people in that position, you can name them on the fingers of one hand. He did so much in music, and he will always stand out as the greatest musician I have met in my entire life, bar none. He was the very best on baritone, although I may be a little prejudiced, but he just got better and better. In recent years when he wasn't writing so much and concentrating on playing, he was the strongest and the best. As for Chet, I can't say enough about him. He was the most musical and melodic trumpeter I've ever played with. He and Gerry were magnificent together because they had "The Magic."

On a discographic note, all the Pacific Jar.z recordings by Mulligan's quartet and tentet are available on Mosaic MD3-102. The quartet's San Francisco date, which included "My Funny Valentine," can be heard on Fantasy -OJCCD-711-2, and their final studio session, which was produced by Gene Nonnun, has been reissued on Jazz Society (F) 670511 CD.


1.  Some bizarre and also some historically important events occurred at the Ambassador Hotel over the years. Albert Einstein once rang reception to complain about room service, and on another occasion Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald set fire to their room, creeping out in the confusion to avoid paying the bill! In 1952, while Gerry Mulligan was still appearing at the Haig, Richard Nixon composed his famous "Checkers" speech at the Ambassador, which saved his position on the Republican ticket as Dwight D. Eisenhower's running mate. Sadly, the hotel achieved a different notoriety when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated there after having just accepted victory in the California primary during his campaign for the presidency in 1968.

2.  This incident occurred early in May 1952, just before Chet Baker joined Charlie Parker for a two-week engagement at the Tiffany club.

3.   In an enthusiastic Down Beat review titled "Mr. Mulligan Has a Real Crazy Gerry-Built Crew." Ralph Gleason said, "the group turned San Francisco into the modern music center of the country . . . they are a musical sensation."

4.  According to Carol Easton in her book Straight Ahead: The Story of Stan Kenton (Da Capo), Carson's description of Gail Madden being "a little strange" may be an understatement. Easton says, "From 1947 to 1949 Gail was living with Bob Graettinger. She was a frustrated pianist who saw herself as the woman behind the genius (whomever he might be at the moment). She looked even freakier than Graettinger, in mismatched shoes, men's clothes, whatever took her fancy. She shared Graettinger's oblique perspective on life and was one of the few people who could make him laugh, but she was volatile and erratic if not downright psychotic. Graettinger came home one day to find everything dyed pink —bedspread, towels, curtains, clothes, shoes, everything."

5.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that both Mulligan and Baker were unfamiliar with "My Funny Valentine." Rodgers and Hart had written it for a 1937 show called Babes in Arms, and despite earlier recordings by people like Cab Calloway, Mel Torme, and Eddie Condon, it remained in obscurity until revived by the Mulligan quartet in 1952. The following year, Frank Sinatra sang it on his very first L.P., Songs for Young Lovers—and the rest, as they say, is history.

6.  Towards the end of the fifties, when Art Farmer joined the group, his initial reaction to working without a piano was: "It's like walking down the street with no clothes on!"

7.  In his excellent book Bird's Diary: The Life of Charlie Parker 1945-1955 (Castle Communications), Ken Vail mentions Joe Maini sitting in with the quartet. He quotes the following letter to Parker from Maini, who was visiting Los Angeles with Jimmy Knepper: "Jerry [sic] Mulligan is making a lot of money out here. He's got a small group with no piano. I played with him the other night on his gig and it was a lot of fun." The letter is dated January 23, 1953.

8.  In a long 1959 Mulligan profile by Nat Hentoff in the New Yorker, he confirmed that Gerry expected to be sent to the Federal Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where he hoped to be cured. That is why he so readily gave himself up, and in a more tolerant society, that is where he would have been sent, rather than to jail.

9.  James Gavin, in his book Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Chatto and Windus), points out that the judge who sentenced Mulligan also sent Barbara Graham to the gas chamber for murder in 1955. Susan Hayward took the role of Graham in the 1958 film I Want to Live, which featured Mulligan on the soundtrack as well as in some early nightclub scenes.

10.  Mulligan has described his incarceration as "sheer torture," but Robert Mitchum on his release from an Honour Farm in 1949 said, probably tongue in cheek. "It was like Palm Springs without the riff-raff!"

11.  It was a long time ago, and understandably Carson's memory is a little at fault here. Mulligan remained working in California for a while after his release, before returning to the East Coast with Bob Brookmeyer.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Part 1 - The Gerry Mulligan Quartet 1952-1953 Interviews by Gordon Jack

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

In his introduction, Gordon Jack provides this background to his interviews with the following members of the 1952-53 Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker: bassists Bob Whitlock and Carson Smith; drummers Chico Hamilton and Larry Bunker.

Early in 1952, after spending several months hitch-hiking from New York to Los Angeles with Gail Madden, Gerry Mulligan obtained a regular Monday night booking at the Haig, a small club opposite the famous Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.1 Erroll Garner was the featured attraction during the week, and Mulligan played there with pianists like Jimmy Rowles, Paul Smith, Donn Trenner, and Fred Otis when Garner had the night off. After Erroll's engagement, owner John Bennett moved (he concert grand piano from the Haig's cramped stage into storage, to accommodate Red Norvo's vibes when Red's trio took over the residency. Mulligan was now faced with a problem on Monday nights, since he didn't want to use a guitar or the small studio upright that Bennett offered to hire for him. His solution of a pianoless quartet featuring Chet Baker's trumpet, with his own baritone sax not only as a solo vehicle but also as an accompanying voice, created one of the most arresting and distinctive sounds in small group jazz-

Just prior to the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of that group, I interviewed the surviving members — drummers Larry Bunker and Chico Hamilton and bass players Carson Smith and Bob Whitlock — for their impressions of working in such an unusual ensemble. I met Chico Hamilton when he was playing in London's Jazz Cafe with his group Euphoria, but the others replied to my questions on cassette tape.

These interviews constitute Chapter 20 in his  Fifties Jazz Talk: An Oral Retrospective [Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004] and as such represent important primary sources for use in documenting Mulligan’s career.


The original bass player with the quartet was Bob Whitlock, who was born in Roosevelt, Utah, on January 21, 1931. In the early fifties, he knew Mulligan only by reputation as an arranger with the Miles Davis nonet, but he and Chet Baker had been friends since 1948.

When Gerry and Gail first arrived in L.A., they were both enthusiastically reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which tells the story of an idealistic architect clashing with big business. It had been released as a film with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, and they really saw themselves in those roles! Anyway, it was around January or February 1952 that Gail telephoned, asking if I would be interested in coming to an audition with Gerry Mulligan. The audition was successful and I was offered the job playing Monday nights with him at the Haig, opposite Erroll Garner. A little later, when we were rehearsing at the Cottage Italia in North Hollywood, it became obvious that the trumpeter Gerry was using, whose name I have now forgotten, wasn't working out.

I should explain that the Cottage Italia was an ordinary Italian restaurant which happened to have a bandstand, and it became a jazz "gladiator" school, where musicians jammed regularly to keep in shape between gigs. It was packed every night, and as far as I know, no one was ever paid a dime. The public was allowed in, but for the most part, musicians and "wannabes" far outnumbered non-musicians. In order to get a feel for the place, it is necessary to understand that nobody organized sets or determined who would play with whom. It was all done very much like choosing sides to play ball in the street, a real grassroots approach resulting in a strange mixture of democracy, anarchy, and survival of the fittest. It was also a surefire way to determine status in the hierarchy of Los Angeles jazz musicians. I once had the dubious distinction of being caught by surprise with a Sunday punch from an angry bass player while combing my hair in the lavatory. He felt slighted about being passed over, and we fought from the lavatory through the bar and restaurant, out onto the street, in front of one of the most attentive crowds I ever performed for. I remember this very well because of a record date the following evening with Gerry for Gene Norman's label at a little second-floor studio on Vine Street. By then my muscles were so stiff and sore, I could barely make it up the stairs with my bass, and the recording session turned out to be a catastrophe. I don't think we ended up with one good take, and as far as I know, nothing we did that night has ever been released.

Gerry needed a new trumpeter, and I persuaded him to consider Chet, assuring him that he would be perfect for the group, as he was one of the best trumpet players on the West Coast. Gerry agreed to an audition and asked me to arrange it as soon as possible. I was excited and I knew Chet would be, as we were both in awe of Gerry's work. Imagine my horror at what happened the following day. Chet had a dreadful habit of warming up at extreme decibel levels. It was irritating, but those who knew him were used to it. After a few ear splitting blasts, Gerry simply went berserk, and there is no other way to describe it. He turned on Chet. screaming, "Don't ever do that around me again!" Chet angrily put his horn away and told Gerry in no uncertain terms where to go and what to do when he got there. They were still raging at each other as Chet stormed out of the audition; it really was quite unbelievable.2 The drummer at the session might have been Lloyd Morales or Alvin Stoller, and I think Gil Barrios was on piano. Gerry still hadn't decided what to do with the piano, as there was a large grand onstage at the Haig for Erroll Garner, and anyway, I always felt that the pianoless concept wasn't planned: it evolved.

On his Monday night gigs at the Haig, Mulligan used a number of musicians, like Sonny Criss, Ernie Royal, Dave Pell, Howard Roberts, and Art Pepper. Pepper sat in on half a dozen occasions, but Whitlock did not recall anything beyond a working relationship between Pepper and Mulligan.

I seriously doubt if they had any social contact to speak of. My guess is that they probably had some musical respect for one another, but knowing both of them. I suspect there would have been a good chance of clashing egos. The one thing they had in common was a great admiration for Zoot's playing. I recall Gerry playing tenor and clarinet at some of our early rehearsals, and although he didn't use the tenor much, I was thoroughly enchanted by the sound he got on his old metal clarinet. I have often wondered why he didn't have a tryst with the bass clarinet, and one can only imagine what he might have done with it.

He occasionally played piano at the Haig and at some of our rehearsals—and as you might expect, his approach was totally individual and distinctive. It was fascinating listening to his highly personal rhythms and harmonies, the best of which were the result of strong, independent voice leading, with a predilection for contrary motion, often producing wonderfully dissonant and strikingly original results. To my ears, he sounded like a superlative arranger attempting to realize some of the richness of his ideas at the keyboard, although I must confess to a preference for leaner textures. Surprisingly, it was when jamming that the complexity and density of Gerry's piano work tended to conspire against swinging, despite the axiom that complex ideas often require complex means. At his best, when he was comfortable with the tempo, he sounded extraordinarily inventive and interesting. At his worst, one had the impression that he was in over his head, especially if the tempo overtaxed his technical facility. I often found in his piano playing a sense of humor similar to Erik Satie, especially when he was parodying older styles. At rehearsals he used the piano as a tool to explore, evoke, or convey a certain mood or feeling.

When we were rehearsing, Gail had a tendency to try to dominate initially, which took some getting used to. Gerry often had his hands full, but many of her observations were very astute, and she made some valuable contributions, in my opinion. How could a bass player fail to appreciate her obsession with transparency, buoyancy, precision, and balance within the group? That was her major concern and the focus of a good deal of her criticism. Gail was nothing if not flamboyant, and she was most certainly in the vanguard. I also found her to be intelligent, resourceful, rebellious, bold, opinionated, and altogether fascinating. She could also be a major pain in the ass sometimes, but at the end of the day, I thought she was great and I give her five stars! I might add that I secretly admired Gerry for his anti-chauvinistic manner of relating to her. Despite some moments that had to be uncomfortable and deeply embarrassing for him, I think he held her in high regard and valued her in many important ways. It wasn't long, though, before she just vanished from the scene, and I never quite understood what went awry. After she was gone, I missed her, because she always managed to generate an aura of excitement that I found very much to my liking.

We sometimes rehearsed at the Haig, but more often we played at Charlene's parents' home, which was in Lynwood, in the southern part of L.A. Aside from the twenty-mile commute, we enjoyed these workouts. Charlene was Chet's wife at the time, and if weather permitted, and it usually did, we played outside on the rear patio. Gerry wrote practically all the originals, but on standards, show tunes, and ballads he not only encouraged but expected everyone to improvise, or improve-ize if you will, and that was the beauty of it. The charts weren't static—just no anarchy, please! When everyone was on the same wave, listening and responding with acumen, it could be very exciting. Having said that, it was Gerry's inimitable presence that drove and defined the character and flavor of the group, and I loved working with it. I couldn't wait to get to work each night, because it was great being out there, totally exposed to the challenge of inventing melodically interesting bass lines, strong enough to eliminate harmonic ambiguity and simple enough to swing. I thrived on that challenge!

Of course Gerry's abilities as an accompanist were phenomenal, and he had that vast pool of ideas to draw upon, from all those years as an arranger. His forte was building spontaneous arrangements, because he was something of an architect. It was really exciting to walk a bass line and discover him moving along a tenth above, totally enhancing the whole effect. He always had his ears open and expected the same from his cohorts. With all due respect to the other guys, without Gerry's accompaniment, there is no Gerry Mulligan Quartet.


Just as Gail Madden had recruited Bob Whitlock, she was also responsible for introducing Foreststorn Chico Hamilton to Mulligan. Hamilton, born in Los Angeles on September 21, 1921, had been working for Lena Home since 1947. He was taking a sabbatical from the singer, and Gail heard him at the Streets of Paris, where he was playing with Charlie Barnet.

Gerry wasn't in too great a shape at the time, and he used to hang out at the Streets of Paris nearly every night. We befriended each other, and I often invited him home for dinner with my family. One night he said to me, "Forest-storn, if you play for me the way you play for Charlie Barnet, I'll fire your ass!" I was doing a lot of things with Barnet, like dropping bombs, but he let me do them because Charlie was cool.

Gerry's group with Chet and Bob got together, and we started rehearsing over at my house. The historians can say what they like, and they usually do, but we just happened to be four guys in the right place at the right time. It was destiny, and those recordings still sound fresh today because we were all listening to each other. Suddenly the Haig was the hottest joint in town, with wall-to-wall people every night.

Two months after Mulligan and Chet Baker's first acrimonious meeting, and as a result of what Bob Whitlock has described as some serious apologizing, the Gerry Mulligan Quartet recorded their first titles at Phil Turetsky's bungalow in Laurel Canyon. Phil was an amateur recording engineer, and he produced those initial sides, "Bernie's Tune" and "Lullaby of the Leaves," with just two microphones. The quartet was still doing the off-nights at the Haig when they were booked to play for a week in September at the Black-hawk in San Francisco, opposite Dave Bruheck's Quartet.-* Just prior to this engagement, Whitlock decided to leave the group because, he says, "I was broke and needed income, so I left town with Vido Musso's band." The new bass player was Carson Smith.


Carson Smith was born in San Francisco on January 9, 1931. Just three months before he died in 1997, he talked about his time with Mulligan.

I had been following Gerry's career for several years before I joined the quartet, because he was one of my heroes. His arrangements on those Miles Davis recordings were among my favorites, and I played them until I wore them out. In early 1952 I was living in Long Island, New York, and spending all my time looking for him in jam sessions, until I discovered that he had already taken off for the Coast. I was feeling homesick for California, so a friend and I drove my 1936 Ford across the country. When we reached L.A., I found that Harry Babasin was having a little session down in Inglewood and Chet Baker was there. This was the first time I played with him, and we had a ball. During the break we went outside to smoke a little grass, and he asked if I would like to team up with a guy called Gerry Mulligan who had a quartet without a piano. I said, "You have to be kidding. I have been looking for him for the past year." Gerry had a rehearsal a couple of days later, and I sure liked what I heard. I did my best with what little musical experience I had, although I knew a lot of tunes, which impressed Gerry. That meant that he didn't have to teach me a lot, and he seemed to take a little bit of a liking to me. Except for some originals, very little of his stuff was laid out on paper.

I never met Gail Madden, as she and Gerry had split up before I joined the group, but I knew she was a little strange from the stories I heard from everyone who knew her.4 She was what you might call a hippy, before the hippies came in. She apparently pushed Gerry pretty well, like most of his female associates, who were all strong women.

It was while the group played in San Francisco that they recorded part of an album for Fantasy Records, which included their celebrated version of "My Funny Valentine." Mulligan has said that this is the only album he didn't receive royalties from, and it is arguably one of the best he made with Chet Baker. Smith told me about the recording session.

Those sides were recorded by having us stand around a single 440 mike, which looked like a small football placed about nine inches above the floor. We had actually run out of things to play, and Gerry asked if anyone could think of something. I suggested "Funny Valentine," which nobody knew, so I quickly sketched out a lead line, and it almost became Chet's theme song for the rest of his life.5

I used a rented bass whenever we recorded, because my instrument at the time was literally falling apart, so I had to get a new one. When the quartet got back to L.A.. I bought an old French bass from Joe Mondragon for $300, which doesn't sound much now, but you couldn't touch that bass for $8,000 today. Thanks to Ralph Pena, who was leaving Billy May, I had the chance to go on the road with the band for a three-month tour. I arranged to send Joe $50 a week from my paycheck until I paid him off, and of course I told Gerry why I was leaving the group.


In October 1952 the quartet returned to the studios to complete their first album for Pacific Jazz with Bob Whitlock again on bass. He was in town after working with Vido Musso, whose big hit at the time was "Come Back to Sorrento."

Gerry asked if I wanted to return, and I accepted. After a few weeks of "Sorrento," I was ready to go back as his gardener if necessary. We were mostly working at the Haig, except for two engagements at the Blackhawk and some Sunday afternoon sessions in Hollywood at the Tailspin on Cahuenga Boulevard. We eventually lost the job at the Tailspin when Steve White showed up one afternoon in rare form. He was a brilliant tenor player and a legend in his own time, and I think Gerry wanted to shoot him on the spot, because the group was just beginning to really make it. There may have been a few other minor casual dates that I don't recall.

The quartet had become very popular and the reason was "Show-Biz," plain and simple. Gerry knew the importance of variety in material and treatment, and he had an uncanny sense of pacing. We not only played standards and originals but also everything from Latin sambas to tunes from Disney movies. There was something for everyone, and the caliber of musicianship was always convincing. Also, it would be naive to ignore some of the more obvious gimmicks that Gerry used. For instance, the slightest disturbance in the audience was his cue to stop the band in its tracks and make an example of the poor perpetrator, and how the rest of the crowd ate it up! It reminds me of when Miles used to turn his back on the audience, play a few bars, and then walk off stage. Audiences, especially "hip" jazz audiences in the fifties, loved the melodrama, even when it involved being insulted, or maybe because of it. It's no wonder that we were often referred to as "the Chamber Music Society of Lower Wilshire Boulevard"! Of course, there's no denying that just the idea of a pianoless group got Gerry plenty of attention, as well as a lot of free publicity, and you can rest assured that he was not oblivious to the fruits of controversy. I also sensed that audiences were able to feel the excitement of our newfound independence and felt a certain connection with us, which they weren't used to, and they liked it. Then, when the group really started to catch on, it was a fait accompli, oui?

Ironically, what makes performing without a piano so exciting is the very thing that can bring you to the abyss, because you are always exposed. If the creative juices aren't flowing or you are otherwise compromised, it can be devastating, and even a minor fault in intonation can make you want to run and hide. There is also some limitation in material, because certain pieces almost demand a chordal approach to be effective and can be tough to handle. Others lend themselves to a more linear treatment and do just fine with a couple of moving lines — a basso ostinato — or some other unifying device, to define and clarify. Obviously it is from this type that you draw most of your material, because no one likes swimming upstream for too long. One of the worst problems for me involved tuning, especially at the outset of the evening, when changes in temperature and humidity were wreaking havoc on the instruments. Since the horns' pitch was dominant, it was on me to adjust, and it isn't easy playing while reaching for the tuning pegs!

I remember William Holden and Deborah Kerr used to visit the Haig, and what a class act they were. Their behavior was impeccable, and they really seemed to enjoy being there. After paying so many times to see them on the screen, I couldn't believe they were actually paying to see us. One of the most important visitors I can recall, although not a star per se, was Leonard Rosen-man, the film composer, who later wrote those haunting Berg-like passages in the opening of Kazan's East of Eden. I reckoned if people like Rosenman were interested in us. we must be doing something right.

It is a well-known cliché that England and America are two countries separated by a common language. I wanted to ask Bob if he had ever sent in a dep while he was with the group. Not sure if the abbreviation would be totally understood, I used the word "deputy" instead.

Deputy. I love that word. Californians hear it and ditch their pill bottles! The only dep I sent in was Red Mitchell, who was a class act and an absolutely incredible soloist. He sat in with the group a few times and was perfectly at ease.

As far as personal relationships within the group were concerned, I got along great with Gerry at first. He was friendly and charming and I was very much in awe of him; after all, he was the chief arranger on one of the most historically significant jazz recordings in history. Unfortunately, our relationship eventually took a downward turn, and it just went from bad to worse. As far as he and Chet were concerned, Gerry liked to create the impression that Chet was his discovery and protege and fancied himself as some kind of mentor, which didn't sit well with Chet at all. He was having none of it and didn't resist an opportunity to repudiate any such suggestion, often in open revolt against Gerry.

Chet was one of those rare birds who learned to read music but never had any real training in harmony. Most of us play by ear, assisted by some knowledge of harmony and counterpoint, but since he didn't have the benefit of those tools, he was forced to do it all by ear, and therein lies his genius. Naturally, there is a price to pay with this approach. It requires the bravado to run through minefields and the courage of Hannibal, because the perils are endless. The reward comes in the form of refreshing vitality, breathtaking melodic invention, freedom from exasperating clichés, extraordinary sensitivity to shading and color, and a lyricism second to none. Not a bad trade-off if you are willing to take the risks, and Chet greeted the challenge like a gladiator. Of course, Gerry's trade winds blew from the opposite direction. He had all the tools at his disposal, and he made impressive use of them, especially in the area of accompaniment, where he was probably without peer. In Chet's case, he was my closest friend. We would spend whole days together, and we always knew we could count on each other. As for Chico, he thought he was my big brother. Every so often after work, he would take me to one of those after-hours speakeasies on the south side, where everyone knew him. I guess you could say we were socializing, but whatever we were doing. I enjoyed it. I liked Chico and was always happy to see him coming down the pike.

I stayed with Gerry until the night before Christmas Eve 1952. We had just returned from the group's second stint at the Blackhawk, and I remember going out to Chet's car during intermission at the Haig. A police cruiser came by our parked car in time to see sparks flying from a furtively lit joint tossed out of the window. One of the officers turned out to be from Chet's home state of Oklahoma, and he told him that if there was no more weed in the car, he would release us with a warning. Chalk that up for male bonding, I thought, but when they searched the car, they found two full lids in the door panel. We were summarily arrested and spent the Yuletide in jail, during which Chet took all the weight and had me cut loose. This incident led to a bitter confrontation with Gerry in the dressing room at the Haig, where he decreed that Chet and I were bad news for each other. By this time our personal relationship had deteriorated beyond redemption, but up to this point we had never threatened each other physically. I guess we were bluffing, because it all ended with a childish exchange of "You're fired!" and "I quit!" What can I say? Boys will be boys! My heroin habit was way out of control by this time, and some concerned relatives intervened. Three of my closest cousins were visiting for the holidays and came to the Haig to surprise me, but they were horrified at my condition and nearly kidnapped me. A few days later I was on my way back with them to my birthplace in Utah, and although it was cold turkey and tough for a while, I stayed there for nearly a year and got my health back.


Chico Hamilton was still with the quartet at this time, and towards the end of January 1953 he and Larry Bunker shared the drum duties on Mulligan's tentet album. His personal circumstances, though, were quite different from his colleagues. At thirty-one, he was by far the oldest, and he was the only one to have a wife and family. The job at the Haig paid union scale, but he could clearly earn far more with Lena Home.

I was under contract to Lena, and when she was ready to go back to work, I had to leave the group. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had stayed, because they were good times and Gerry and Chet became virtual superstars. Most people don't realize that Chet was a phenomenon, and he was not just an imitation of Miles Davis; he was a hell of a player. He could play like any trumpeter you can name, but he had his own thing going. And Gerry, after Harry Carney, reinvented the baritone. He had a flowing, swinging style, and you could say he applied Lester Young's approach to the instrument. He was one of the most melodic baritone players ever, and with his soft, well-rounded, smooth sound he could almost sound like Johnny Hodges on that thing! I have a tremendous respect for Gerry and his abilities as a musician.

Eventually, there was friction between Gerry and Chet, and I would sometimes stay in the middle of them to keep them apart. Some nights we would come off the stand, and Chet would stand one way at the bar and Gerry another, so that they were back to back."

To be continued in Part 2.