© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
The following is excerpted from Matthew Ruddick, Funny Valentine The Story of Chet Baker. Melrose Books . Kindle Edition.
It tells the story from trumpeter Chet Baker’s perspective of the original Gerry Mulligan piano less quartet which grew out of several circumstances in the summer of 1952. One year later, it was over. But in that time, the group had recorded prolifically for Pacific Jazz as well as 8 titles for Fantasy and 6 for GNP and pretty well launched the careers of both artists both nationally and internationally.
It is a lengthy read, but one that the editorial staff of JazzProfiles deemed very important to include in the blog archives as part of its efforts to provide a comprehensive collection of writings on Mulligan, his career and his music. You'll find the enumerated footnotes at the conclusion of the text. Also, the spellings of many words are in English English and not American English.
Chapter Four THE GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET 1952–1953
“It was a very unique group in as much as there was no piano and it left a lot more open space. The piano covers up a lot. The piano is an orchestra itself and when you’re playing behind an orchestra, sometimes sometimes you get lost in it. But without it, everything was very clear, and the space was there and the feeling was there.”—Chet Baker1
Chet walked into the rehearsal with Gerry Mulligan, relaxed and nonchalant as ever. He put his trumpet to his lips, and let out a series of piercing shrieks, his regular warm-up procedure. “Don’t you ever blast like that again, not under my roof!” shouted Mulligan. Chet was embarrassed and upset, unaccustomed to the saxophonist’s disciplined ways. “Go fuck yourself!” he yelled, then stuck his trumpet in his bag, and walked out. It wasn’t the most auspicious of starts to what was to become one of the most celebrated pairings in modern jazz.
But then Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker were always the odd couple. Mulligan was a formally trained musician, who favoured tight musical arrangements that had been well-rehearsed. He had a strict, paternal manner, in part inherited from his father, a trait that also made him very business-minded. Chet, by contrast, played almost exclusively by ear. His laid-back demeanour, a product of his West Coast upbringing, belied a stubborn, sometimes childish streak. The music industry meant nothing to him; he just wanted to play. But for a short time — just one year — they generated a chemistry that both musicians struggled to replicate in the years that followed. Although forever associated with the ‘West Coast jazz’ tag, Gerald Joseph Mulligan was born in Queens, New York, on 6th April 1927, the fourth and youngest son of an industrial engineer. His father changed jobs on a regular basis, relocating the family to Marion, Ohio, where he worked for the Marion Power Shovel Company, then to Chicago, on to Kalamazoo, before finally settling in Philadelphia. The moving took its toll on the family. “No sooner did I get to know children in one town than we’d move someplace else,” he later recalled. “I became very insecure in my relations with other people as a result.”2
Unlike Chet Baker, he had an extensive formal musical training, encouraged by his authoritarian Irish father. His first instrument, a ukulele, quickly gave way to piano. He spent a great deal of time at the house of his African-American nanny, Lily Rowan, who gave him an early exposure to jazz. “She had a player piano and I used to love that. She used to have all kinds of things, like Fats Waller rolls, so I used to lean against the piano bench with my nose at keyboard height pumping away, playing the stuff.”3 Attending the local Catholic school in Kalamazoo, Mulligan’s music teacher, a trumpet player, taught a variety of different instruments, and he switched his emphasis from piano to clarinet. The school orchestra also provided him with his first opportunity to try his hand at arranging. “It was a fairly ungodly instrumentation: one clarinet, one violin, one drum, one piano player—seven or eight of us,” he later remembered. “I had the desire to write something for us, so that was my first arrangement. I was fascinated with the tune ‘Lover’, with its chromatic progression that I felt was beautiful. So I tried to write out an arrangement of ‘Lover’, very simple with a lot of whole notes and quarter notes, and I tried to get the moving parts and all that stuff for our little instrumentation. Well, I ultimately never heard it because the school was taught by nuns, and like a fool I put on top of each sheet the title ‘Lover’. A nun took one look at the title and that was the end of that. We never even played the thing. So that was the abrupt end of my burgeoning writing career.”4
Mulligan later added the tenor saxophone and finally, the baritone saxophone to his repertoire, before reaching the decision to focus his attention on the baritone, in part due to the influence of Harry Carney, who played in Duke Ellington’s band. In 1944, aged just seventeen, he left home to join the Johnny Warrington radio band, then the Tommy Tucker big band, writing arrangements for both. Mulligan returned to New York in 1946, joining the Gene Krupa big band as staff arranger, where he attracted attention by composing and arranging ‘Disc Jockey Jump’, a 1947 hit.
Around this time, Mulligan also met Claude Thornhill, another New York-based bandleader. Thornhill’s main arranger was Gil Evans, who was beginning to make his mark with an original big-band sound, depending partly on instruments more often associated with classical music, such as the French horn and the tuba. Gil Evans introduced Mulligan to a number of like-minded young musicians, including Lee Konitz, who played alto sax with Thornhill’s band, pianist John Lewis, who was working as an arranger for Dizzy Gillespie’s band, and Miles Davis, at that time best known for his work with Charlie Parker. Between engagements the musicians used to crowd into Evan’s basement apartment, situated behind a laundry on West 55th Street. “I was over at Gil’s place most of the time.
It finally got to the point where Gil and I were taking turns using the piano and taking turns sleeping, and there were people in and out of the place all the time,” said Mulligan. “Day and night we’d have people over there, and so there was no schedule like with normal people. When guys would come, we would be up and have breakfast or eat something if we felt like it, and one of us would be using the piano. This went on winter and summer. It got really cold down there, so we were bundled up in overcoats and blankets sitting at the piano taking turns writing. More than anything, it was just an outgrowth of these endless or open-ended conversations that were always going on.”5
Regular visitors included George Russell, John Lewis, Lee Konitz, John Carisi, Max Roach, Blossom Dearie, and members of the Thornhill band, whenever they were in town. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were even known to drop by, and occasionally the arranger Johnny Mandel. “We would always be sitting round, talking about music, or arguing about something,” Miles recalled in his autobiography. “I remember Gerry Mulligan being very angry at this time, about a lot of shit. But so was I, and we would get into arguments sometimes. But Gil was like a mother hen to all of us … he was a beautiful person who just loved to be around musicians. And we loved being around him because he taught us so much, about caring for people and about music, especially arranging music.”6
At this time, Evans was experiencing some friction within Thornhill’s band, in part because
of the attention he was receiving, whilst Davis was disillusioned by the tensions that existed within the Parker band, and the constant disputes over money. Miles was also “looking for a vehicle where I could solo more in the style that I was hearing. My music was a little slower, and not so intense as Bird’s.”7
Before long, Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis started to discuss forming a new band. Evans and Mulligan, as arrangers, were keen to experiment with a scaled-down version of the Thornhill group, convinced that they could match the tone and harmonies of the eighteen-piece big band with just nine instruments. Between them, Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans spent most of the winter of 1947–48 working on the instrumentation for a nine-piece band.
The horn section was centred on the trumpet sound of Miles Davis. As Mulligan explained, “We wound up holding it down to one trumpet because if Miles were to be the trumpet his sound was so personal that we didn’t really want to have to blend it with another trumpet sound. Let the trumpet sound be his; and it really fit. It became an easy thing for me to write for because I could hear Miles melodically much more easily than I could hear a trumpet player who was really playing an open trumpet sound.”8
The original plan was to recruit Danny Polo on clarinet, but Mulligan and Evans came to the conclusion that, much as they loved his sound, it was probably impractical. “Danny was always on the road with the Thornhill Band and there wasn’t anybody else that we wanted on clarinet,” explained Mulligan. To add depth to the lower range, Mulligan and Evans decided on the French horn and tuba that Evans had pioneered in Thornhill’s band, trombone and Mulligan’s baritone saxophone, using an alto saxophone to balance the higher end of the range.
Having decided the instrumentation, the three of them had to recruit the other band members. John Lewis, a regular guest at Evans’s apartment, and with a shared interest in arrangement, was an obvious choice as pianist. Lewis had been a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s bop-style big band since 1946, where he had developed his skills as both a composer and arranger. Al McKibbon had replaced Ray Brown in Gillespie’s band in 1947, and joined the new band on bass. Max Roach was a drummer with Charlie Parker’s quintet, where he worked with Davis, and had been one of the regular guests at Evans’s apartment.
The tuba was a potential problem, as Carisi noted, as they needed “to get a tuba player that could play delicately enough, that wasn’t a German-band-sounding tuba.”9 They eventually settled on Bill Barber, a member of Thornhill's group, who came recommended by Evans. Sandy Siegelstein, a French horn player, was also poached from the Thornhill band, although by the time of the group’s concert at the Royal Roost, Junior Collins had replaced him. First choice trombonist J.J. Johnson was on tour when the band formed, and Davis initially recruited Michael Zwerin, an eighteen-year-old college student. Zwerin was present at the group’s New York concerts in September 1948, but was replaced by Kai Winding for the group’s first recording session, and eventually by J.J. Johnson for the two later sessions.
The biggest debate appears to have been over the alto saxophonist, with Miles Davis favouring the more bop-oriented Charlie Parker disciple, Sonny Stitt, and Mulligan preferring the more delicate sound of Lee Konitz. Mulligan was keen to develop a sound that was quite distinct from the hard bebop sound of Parker and Gillespie, and was concerned that there were already too many bop-based musicians in the band, including Davis himself, Roach, Lewis and McKibbon. He eventually persuaded Davis that Konitz’s ‘cool’ tone was more in keeping with the compositions he was working on.
Davis later likened the instrumentation to a choir. “I was the soprano voice, Lee Konitz was the alto. We also used the French horn for alto voicing and the baritone sax for the baritone voicing, and the bass tuba for bass voicing … I wanted the instruments to sound like human voices, and they did.”10
The role of Miles Davis in the formation of the Birth of the Cool band has always been a matter of debate. Whilst Evans and Mulligan decided on the instrumentation, Davis was the one who was motivated enough to get the band out of the apartment, and into the rehearsal hall, a view that Mulligan confirmed. “Miles was really the practical one. It’s a little hard for some people to realise that, but Miles always wanted something of his own and he really had the desire to have his own band and make a place for himself in the music scene. He loved the sound of the Thornhill Band and when he heard this idea we were talking about with the instrumentation, he thought that could be it. So he was the one who started making the phone calls, getting the guys together, picking out the players, reserving the rehearsal studios, and generally assuming the role of a leader. And that’s how we started actually playing together, because I think if it had been left to the rest of us we probably would have kept on theorizing and writing and never have gotten around to doing anything.”11 Davis confirmed this view of events in his autobiography, describing how he “hired the rehearsal halls, called the rehearsals, and got things done … I got us some jobs, and made the contact at Capitol records to do the recording.”12
The new band only played one engagement, supporting the Count Basie band at the Royal Roost on Broadway and 47th, playing a two-week stint in late August and early September 1948. In the words of Konitz, the concerts were not a resounding success. “It didn’t sound that great. Changes in personnel, and not much opportunity to rehearse, and it was very delicate music.”
The more bebop-oriented members of the band, most notably Miles Davis himself, also had problems adapting to the chamber-type arrangements in a live setting. “If you start stretching out too many solos on those arrangements—to me this always happens in arrangements anyway—if the solos are too long then the composed parts lose their continuity; they lose their connection with each other,” noted Mulligan. “And that’s what Miles started to do in the club, play more and more choruses on the things, so that the band never really solved those problems, and Miles wasn’t considering them. John Lewis used to get really mad at him because he wouldn’t assume the responsibility and wouldn’t consider the band—because the band was a unique thing. It’s not like going into the club with a sextet. It functioned well as a rehearsal band, because as a rehearsal band you’re in an altogether different world than when you’re out functioning as a working group in front of an audience. It’s an altogether different kettle of fish and it takes focus and concentration, and it takes consideration.”13
The reaction of the audience and critics was also mixed. No doubt this is partly explained by the fact that the music played was quite distinct from that of Basie’s swing band. In addition, many of the leading jazz critics were still enamoured of the bop style, and did not seem to know what to make of the textured arrangements.
Still, Basie himself seems to have liked what he heard, describing how “the slow things sounded strange and good”, and more importantly Pete Rugolo of Capitol records was impressed, and signed up the band to record twelve sides once the recording ban had ended.
Ralph Watkins, the owner of the Royal Roost, had only taken on the band as a favour to Davis, having been impressed with his work with the Parker quintet. For most club owners, it was uneconomical to take on a nine-piece band, particularly when the music they played was regarded as experimental. As a consequence the nonet effectively disbanded after the Royal Roost concerts, with the members returning to their other bands, and Zwerin returning to college.
The band effectively regrouped in late January 1949, with Kai Winding replacing Zwerin, and Al Haig and Joe Shulman replacing Lewis and McKibbon, respectively, both of whom had returned to Gillespie’s band, and were away touring. The band recorded four songs at the first session, returning to the studios in April 1949, and again in March 1950, to fulfill their contract, each time with slightly modified personnel.
To begin with, Pete Rugulo had difficulty capturing the band’s unique sound. “He told me at one point when we took a break, ‘Gerry, we are having a hell of a time in the control room and I don’t know what to tell the engineer. We just really are not getting it’. I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what to tell you about how to record it because I don’t know that much about the microphone and the techniques. All we’re trying to do is get a natural balance between the six horns’. We were trying to blend with each other and we were set up so that we were all facing in on the microphones, so ideally we should have been able to hear each other to a certain extent. I think probably what they needed to do—I don’t know if they had the facilities then before any kind of stereo—was to have more microphones than we used. I don’t know what the limitations were on the equipment, but that’s really what it seemed like it needed.”14
Once the technical difficulties had been resolved, the recording sessions proceeded smoothly, according to Mulligan. “Miles was brilliant on those things, Miles and Lee both. Absolutely brilliant, the way they played in and out of the arrangements—wonderful. That made everything worthwhile. Another thing that made it worthwhile was Max Roach on the first date. The first set of dates was really wonderful. He was far and away the best drummer for the thing because he could approach the things as a composer and he took the kind of care with playing with the ensemble that showed his compositional awareness.”15
The music was originally released on four 78-rpm singles in 1949 and 1950, and was not available in long-play format until May 1954, under the title Birth of the Cool. The critical reaction was mixed, at least initially. The New York Times published an unfavourable review, whilst Winthrop Sargeant, a classical musical writer for The New Yorker, questioned whether the music should even be labelled ‘jazz’. “The music sounds more like that of the new Maurice Ravel than it does like jazz. I, who do not listen to jazz recordings day in and day out, find this music charming and exciting … If Miles Davis were an established ‘classical’ composer, his work would rank high among that of his contemporary colleagues. But it is not really jazz.”16
Even if the critics were unconvinced, musicians were increasingly won over by what they heard. Tadd Dameron, a prominent band lead and arranger, who had invited Davis to join his band around this time, described ‘Boplicity’, released in October 1949, as “one of the best small group sounds I’ve heard.”
The music also started to impact musicians on the West Coast. As drummer Shelly Manne recalled, “the main influence on West Coast jazz, if one record could be an influence, was the album that Miles Davis made called Birth of the Cool. That kind of writing and playing was closer to what we were trying to do, closer to the way a lot of us felt, out on the West Coast. What we wanted to do was to be represented by that album. It had a lot to do with not only with just improvisation and swing. It was the main character of the music we liked—the chance for the composer to be challenged too. To write some new kind of material for jazz musicians where the solos and the improvisation became part of the whole and you couldn’t tell where the writing ended and the improvisation began. The spaces were right, it was lighter, maybe a little more laid-back kind of music. Maybe a little cooler, but still swinging. I felt that it was a good period, a creative period at that time.”
The Birth of the Cool records also had a profound impact on Chet Baker, and his close friend, bass player Bob Whitlock. “Chet and I used to sit and listen to those records together and marvel at the arrangements of Gil Evans and Gerry; they were like something out of the blue, you know. It wasn’t like the brassy big band sound at all; it was very different, very subtle. There was a clarity and buoyancy to the arrangements. And the voicing between the horns was very unusual. There was some lightweight dissonance that most of us weren’t used to. It was fresh and delightful. We weren’t so much taken by the soloists as the ensemble playing. The closest thing we had to that out here on the West Coast was Shorty Rogers, people like that, but it didn’t even come close. It was very influential.”17
Whilst the nonet effectively disbanded after these recordings, the musicians learnt from their experience, and had greater success developing these ideas on their own. Miles continued to refine his unique sound, and by the mid-1950s, had evolved into the most important bandleader of his generation. Lee Konitz had been working for some time with Lennie Tristano, a blind, Chicago-born experimental pianist, and together with saxophonist Warne Marsh, they devised their own unique take on ‘cool’ jazz. John Lewis, the pianist, teamed up with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, eventually forming the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952, developing a style that is frequently described as ‘chamber jazz’. Finally, Kai Winding the trombonist, started to work with saxophonist Stan Getz, and experimented with a number of small group formats.
As a consequence, the influence of the Birth of the Cool sessions gradually seeped out into the mainstream, arguably finding greatest traction on the West Coast, influencing the ‘cool’ sounds that took hold in the early–mid 1950s. The music press also warmed to the band over time, with the New York Times reversing its initially lukewarm response to the music, and DownBeat magazine going as far as to analyse the solos of both Davis and Konitz.
After the nonet disbanded, Mulligan found work harder to come by, and struggled to finance a burgeoning heroin habit. In 1950, he started to play at the Red Door, a midtown Manhattan rehearsal space. It was here that his girlfriend Gail Madden, a pianist and percussionist, apparently encouraged him to experiment with a sound that he would later make famous—a pianoless quartet. The band featured Mulligan on baritone, Tony Fruscella on trumpet, Phil Leshin on bass, and drummer Walter Bolden. Unfortunately, the band never made it out of the Manhattan walk-up, and Mulligan was left to further develop these ideas when he reached California.
In the meantime, he found occasional work as an arranger, continuing his apprenticeship with Claude Thornhill, and contributing scores to the big band of Elliot Lawrence. He also recorded a solo LP, Mulligan Plays Mulligan, for Prestige Records in August 1951. The recording was originally attributed to The Gerry Mulligan All Stars, a tentet including Latin-style percussion, and much lighter in tone that his work with the Miles Davis nonet.
Shortly afterwards, Mulligan decided to leave New York. His drug addiction was starting to get out of control, and he was struggling to find regular work. He decided to sell his horns, and hitchhike to California with his girlfriend. “I did some playing along the way using borrowed horns, mostly tenors, and I remember playing in a cowboy band in a roadhouse outside Albuquerque for a while,” he said. “I was lucky because I knew a guy who was teaching at the university there, and he helped me keep body and soul together.”18
Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Gail Madden introduced Mulligan to her former boyfriend, the arranger Bob Graettinger. Graettinger was in the process of recording ‘City of Glass’, his most famous composition, with Stan Kenton’s orchestra. Mulligan evidently impressed Kenton, and was invited to write for the band. “Even though it wasn’t my ideal band or style or anything, I was very glad to get the job and did my best to try to satisfy Stan. I wrote a lot of charts for him at that period. I remember that the first thing I wrote for him was very contrapuntal, I was trying to do a thing that built an ensemble sound out of all the unison contrapuntal lines, and it built up to a nice solid ensemble chorus. Stan didn’t really like it very well, so he said if I rewrote it he would take it, so I did. I put the tune ‘Walking Shoes’ on the first part and used the out chorus from the piece that was there. That was alright. He made sure that I understood that the other guys were to do the concert stuff, and what I was writing would be the dog work, writing the dance arrangements, which was alright with me because I liked the tunes. I did the best I could with them. I’m not sure how much he liked them. I threw in a few originals along the way.”19
Mulligan struck up a friendship with the orchestra’s trumpeter, Milton ‘Shorty’ Rogers, whose own work was heavily influenced by the Birth of the Cool sound. “I did some playing with Shorty Rogers at Balboa,” Mulligan later claimed, “with people like Art Pepper, Wardell Grey, Coop and June Christy. Shorty was very nice and always used me whenever he could.”
Another early acquaintance on the West Coast—from around March 1952—was the twenty-one-year-old bass player Bob Whitlock. “Gail Madden called me, and asked me if I’d come to an audition with Gerry. I was tickled pink—I would have done anything.” Whitlock was surprised to find that Mulligan was struggling to find regular work. “It was kind of rough; you would have expected him to find all kinds of work, but he had some pretty rigid principles. He figured he could blaze a new trail.” The rehearsal with Mulligan was just as a duo, and whilst the young bass player found the experience somewhat daunting, it was a musical success. “The first thing he said to me scared the life out of me. He said, ‘Play a four bar introduction’. I had this thing I’d memorised that Al Haig used to play with Stan Getz, and I played that as an introduction. Gerry came in, cooking, and we hit it off real well.”20
Gerry introduced Bob to two musicians he had met in Albuquerque, Bill and Ty, who played tenor saxophone and trumpet, respectively. Then Bob Whitlock suggested they recruit Gil Barrios on piano. “Gerry didn’t really know too many guys out here,” he said. “He knew Jimmy Rowles real well, but he was busy doing studio work most days.”
Mulligan arranged for the band to rehearse at the Cottage Italia, a small bar and restaurant in the San Fernando Valley whose owner encouraged musicians to stop by and play. “It was a different era then; guys would be happy to play for free, just to get the experience of playing,” explained Whitlock. “He wound up getting three of four sets a night; guys would line up to play, and couldn’t even get on the bandstand. So it was a good place to go, just to keep your chops together between gigs. That was what it was all about in those days; we were young, full of enthusiasm, and didn’t give a damn about money, we really didn’t. It was all about playing what we could play, and hoping we could go somewhere with it.”
Shortly after the band started playing at the Cottage Italia, Gerry was approached by the disc jockey Gene Norman, who asked him if he wanted to record an album. He booked a small studio on Vine, in the centre of Hollywood. “We did a few tunes, mostly Gerry’s arrangements, but none of it came out very well,” Whitlock remembered. “The album was real sorry, and convinced Gerry that he had to replace the two guys from Albuquerque.” The record was shelved, and to date has never been released.21
A couple of weeks later, some time in April, Bob Whitlock suggested that Gerry audition Chet Baker as a replacement. “He said, ‘Bring him in, I’ll listen to him’,” recalled Whitlock. “I thought, ‘Chet’s going to love this’. But the rehearsal was a disaster. Chet had this terrible habit of blowing so hard to warm up that he’d practically blow your ear-drums out. I don’t know why he did it; a lot of people didn’t like it, but Chet wasn’t one to care what other people thought. Gerry went off, and said, ‘Don’t you ever blast like that again, not under my roof!’ He got very uptight about it, and left Chet feeling very embarrassed. Chet told Gerry, ‘Go fuck yourself!’ then stuck his horn in his bag, and walked out. I sat there with my mouth open.”22
Around this time, Gerry secured occasional work at The Haig nightclub on South Kenmore Avenue, just off Wilshire Boulevard. The Haig was a tiny, converted bungalow, complete with its original white picket fence, hidden behind the elegant Ambassador Hotel, which hosted established stars like Frank Sinatra at its prestigious Coconut Grove nightclub. “It only held seventy or seventy-five people,” recalled tenor saxophonist and arranger Jack Montrose. “It was so tiny that when they had a customer ordering a drink, they had to send someone out to the liquor store to get some inventory. It was not really prepared for business.”23
The Erroll Garner Trio was headlining at The Haig at this time, with Paul Smith taking over on the off nights. Gerry Mulligan initially started playing with Paul Smith, but when the pianist left for another gig, Mulligan took over the off nights as leader.
Over the next two months, Mulligan experimented with a number of different musicians. One of the earliest line-ups consisted of Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone, Art Pepper on alto, Gil Barrios on piano and Alvin Stoller on drums. This only lasted a couple of weeks, however, before Marty Paich took over on piano, and Bobby White on drums. At various times, the rotating group of musicians also included Jimmy Rowles and Fred Otis on piano, Red Mitchell and Joe Mondragon on bass, and Chico Hamilton and Lloyd Morales on drums. “Gerry was trying people out, but had nothing to offer anybody, except Monday night,” said Whitlock.
The first draft of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet emerged from these Monday night jam sessions. Listening closely to Mulligan’s musical experiments was an earnest, bespectacled young man, Dick Bock, an executive of Discovery Records who dreamed of starting his own label. On the afternoon of June 10th, he made arrangements for Gerry to record at the Laurel Canyon bungalow of recording engineer Philip Turetsky. “Gerry asked Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell and Chico Hamilton to meet up at Turetsky’s house where I had access to his Ampex tape recorder and one RCA 44-B microphone,” he later recalled. Rowles failed to turn up for the recording session, but the trio went ahead, recording three songs, with Mulligan filling in on piano as well as baritone saxophone.24
Shortly after this first recording session, Mulligan had a change of heart about his failure to hire Chet Baker. Bob Whitlock cannot be certain, but suspects that pianist Jimmy Rowles had something to do with this. “I know Jimmy Rowles had a record deal. I think Jimmy contacted Gerry to see if he wanted to do a record date he had cooked up. I know that Jimmy loved Chet’s playing, and he may even have called Chet before he called Gerry. I remember Gerry hadn’t heard how good Chet sounded with Charlie Parker, and he took it upon himself to go down there and listen. And when he got there, he was just amazed, and was sorry that he’d blown up on Chet like that.”
In early July, once Chet had returned to Los Angeles after touring with Bird, Mulligan invited Chet to join him onstage at The Haig, an event witnessed by Dick Bock. “He came in, and just sat in. It was so pure, and so natural, you know, that natural talent, that it started to change the whole picture there.”
A week later, Mulligan approached Bock about another recording session, this time with Chet on trumpet. “Soon after that meeting Gerry decided to attempt to record with Jimmy Rowles again. So, together with Chet and Joe Mondragon, we met at the Universal Recording Studio in Hollywood on the evening of July 9th 1952. Out of this session came Kern and Harbach’s ‘She Didn’t Say Yes’. This is the only recording session without drums and with piano.” Bock’s memory may have let him down on this point as the session was almost certainly recorded at Phil Turetsky’s bungalow. The sound of Jimmy Rowles’s piano dominated the session, and Mulligan was again dissatisfied with the results.
Bass player Bob Whitlock was deeply disappointed not to have been invited to the initial recording sessions. “I knew nothing about it until after the fact,” he later revealed. “Chet didn’t mention anything about it, and that really hurt me. They were Jimmy’s arrangements, and Joe was Jimmy’s bass player, but that was little consolation. For a few months I had invested a lot of time and energy with Gerry and it was a hard thing for me to swallow. It was then that I seriously began to entertain other offers.”25
Mulligan continued to experiment with the sound, his girlfriend Gail Maddon [Gale Madden] occasionally contributing ideas about percussion. “One of the things that gave me a lot of confidence to do that was that when we were still in New York and Gail and I were organizing some things, we organized a record date with Prestige, but the rhythm section that she had (with maracas that kind of made a swishing sound, that she made go with the cymbal sound) had no piano in it. So, because of the things she had tried, it gave me kind of an idea of what I might try and what not to do and so on.”26
Whilst Gerry found her contributions helpful, Chet was less favourably disposed to her input. “A couple of weeks later I was called in for a rehearsal with Mulligan, which turned into a big hustle between Gerry and some chick who had come with him from New York,” Chet recalled in his memoirs. “She played the maracas—somewhat—but mostly she was just a pain in the ass for Gerry and kept anything from happening with her bullshit.”
Gerry Mulligan eventually settled on the experienced Forestorn ‘Chico’ Hamilton on percussion. The thirty-year-old drummer was a veteran of the Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and Count Basie big bands. His style was not to everyone’s taste, but as Bob Whitlock explained, he had the characteristics that Mulligan was looking for. “Chico’s drumming wasn’t always liked back then, and he got a lot of criticism. I will say one thing for Gerry; he stood up and made clear that was what he wanted. Chico rarely played anything but brushes; he was also very facile with his fingers, doing stuff on the drums, even the cymbals, with his hands. He had done that with Lena Horne, and it was considered very good showbusiness with her; Gerry saw it as good show business as well, and it also gave him a little variety.”27
Gerry arranged another rehearsal, this time without his girlfriend. “He got in touch with me a week later and we set up another meeting, this time at my house,” Chet wrote. “Chico Hamilton, Bob Whitlock, Gerry and myself were present. The group clicked immediately under Gerry’s direction.”28
But Chet oversimplifies matters—the initial rehearsal did not go as smoothly as he suggests, and further sessions were arranged at the apartment of saxophonist Buddy Collette. “Chico Hamilton, their drummer, wanted to know if they could rehearse at our apartment,” he said. “The first rehearsal didn’t sound too great, because they didn’t know how to play without the piano. It was a shifting of the gears.”29
Whilst Gerry Mulligan was already experimenting with a pianoless quartet, the owner of The Haig, John Bennett, effectively forced the final decision on him. For some months Errol Garner had been the principle attraction at the club, and Bennett had managed to squeeze a nine-foot concert grand Baldwin on the club’s tiny stage. “I remember when they had that grand piano, two of the legs were on the grandstand and the far leg was on a box!” laughed Whitlock.30
The Red Norvo Trio had been booked to replace Errol Garner from mid-July, and was scheduled for a lengthy engagement. At this time the band consisted of Red Norvo on vibraphone, Red Mitchell on bass and Tal Farlow on guitar. “They were now in a quandary over what to do about the off night because they didn’t have a piano and they certainly weren’t going to rent a grand piano to play on the one night,” Mulligan explained. “John Bennett, who was one of the owners of the place, said, ‘What they should do is get one of those little sixty-six-key studio uprights for the off night’. In the meantime Dick had said that he would like me to put a group together to play the off nights. I said, ‘Great’, but when John said this about the piano I said, ‘No, I don’t think I want a studio upright. Thank you. Let me think of something else’. I started to try different things with a bass guitar, drums, and horn— various ways of approaching a rhythm section without a piano.”31
Whilst Mulligan makes it sound like a rational decision to proceed with the pianoless quartet, it was a decision made out of desperation. The band was only working Monday nights at that time, and was struggling to make any kind of living. If he had insisted Bennett bring in an upright piano just for the Monday night, he might easily have lost the slot. Dick Bock remembers asking Mulligan about what he was going to do without a piano, and being told that the band could play without one. “He didn’t want to lose the gig— at that point he was really scuffling. And so it turned out to be a pianoless quartet.”
As another Monday night gig approached, Mulligan remembered watching Chico Hamilton loading his drum kit into the back of his car. “All the time we rehearsed we only had a small set, maybe a snare drum and high hat, a standing tom-tom, and one top cymbal on a stand—no bass drum, no set of tom-toms—and so it was a minimal set. And I remember the first time we had been rehearsing down at a house that Chet rented in Watts, and we were getting ready after rehearsing to pack up to go up into the city to play the job, and I looked in the back of Chico’s car. He had a whole set of drums back there. I asked, ‘What have you got your drums here for?’ He said, ‘Well, we’re going to work tonight’. I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not going to use all that stuff are you?’ He said, ‘Certainly’. I said, ‘No man, you must play with same stuff you’ve been rehearsing with, because this is the sound of the group. It’s going to be different if you come in with a whole set of drums’. He finally gave in, so that’s what he played on: the snare, the sock cymbal, the one standing tom, and the one standing cymbal, and he played a good deal of the time on brushes. But he used to do things in solos that put me away.”32
Onstage at The Haig, the group’s early teething problems were plain for all to see. “Their first night was just horrible,” Dick Bock remembered. “There were these long stretches where there were just bass and drums, where Gerry and Chet were just trying to figure out what they were doing.”
The musicians initially found it difficult to play without the harmonic underpinning of the piano. “The first few nights weren’t that great,” recalled bass player Bob Whitlock. “Gerry would play, then Chet would play, then all of a sudden Chico and I would be alone, and there were only a couple of alternatives; either I would go into solo mode, and Chico would brush away, so the only rhythm going was the brushes. And if I’m playing a solo, there’s no harmonic background, nothing to give any definition to what I’m playing. I’m telling you, I would get up on the bandstand on some of them warm summer nights, and the horns would get out of tune with the bass. I’d be spending half my time cranking the tuning peg. It could really sound bad, a group without any harmonic foundation when you’re not perfectly attuned. There was a very low comfort level there for a while.”33
The group persevered, with Chet quickly grasping that if he were to fall in behind Gerry’s baritone, in the same way that Gerry accompanied his own solos, it gave the rhythm section a great deal more freedom. “Gerry could play counterpoint with anyone, because he was fabulous at that,” explained Bob Whitlock. “He had been a good arranger for many years, and he could fall in behind anyone and accompany them. But other musicians couldn’t do it with him. Chet was the first guy who took that on actively. Chet was so impressed with Gerry’s ability in that respect that he decided he was going to get good at it. And he did; Chet ended up playing some fabulous counterpoint. And finally Gerry noticed that it worked if he played a little counter-line to my solo. And then it got more comfortable, so I would start playing more walking solos. Eventually we got to the stage where all three of us would be playing counterpoint to one another, and it just got more interesting. All of a sudden, people liked what they were hearing, and the more they liked it, the more we liked it, and we got comfortable with each other. And that’s kind of the way it happened. It didn’t happen overnight.”34
Dick Bock could hear the difference, and felt the group was ready to record its first single. With two thousand dollars in savings, and a further two thousand from his friend Roy Harte, who owned a drum shop in Hollywood, he now had enough funds to launch his own record label, Pacific Jazz. “On the afternoon of August 16th 1952, at the Turetsky bungalow again, we recorded the memorable ‘Bernie’s Tune’ and ‘Lullaby Of The Leaves’. That record, released as a single in the fall of 1952, put Pacific Jazz in business,” said Bock.35
The record was well received, and the group was rewarded with a prestigious gig at San Francisco’s Blackhawk club, opposite Dave Brubeck, starting in early September.
By that stage, Bob Whitlock had decided to leave the band, opting to join Vido Musso, the Italian saxophonist, who was offering more regular work. “I left the band after a while, because all I had was the Monday night. I needed some income—I mean, Christ, I was making no money. Vido Musso called and asked me if I wanted to go up to San Francisco. I went up to the Say When, and while I was gone, Gerry hired Carson to replace me.”36
The twenty-one-year-old Carson Smith only had one week to rehearse with the band, but the hard work had already been done, and he quickly grasped what was required of him. “Carson Smith on bass had a particular feeling for the function that he was doing,” Mulligan later claimed. “He realised that he was doing two things at once; it was like being part of the ensemble plus part of the rhythm section. Because everything was supported by the bass, since you didn’t have a piano stating the chords, it had to come from the combination of the bass, bass line, and whatever we were doing with harmonies.”37
In many respects, the Blackhawk gig proved to be the band’s major breakthrough. The influential jazz writer Ralph Gleason, who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, and was the West Coast editor of DownBeat magazine, witnessed their performance. Impressed by what he had heard, he described the band as “certainly the freshest and most interesting sound to come out of jazz in a long time.” His favourable review ensured a capacity crowd for the remainder of the engagement.
Dave Brubeck was also blown away by the unique sound of the quartet, and recommended them to the West Coast label Fantasy Records, much to the disappointment of Bob Whitlock. “If I had known Gerry was going to get a job up there, I never would have gone! As it turned out, we were up there at the same time. Eventually Fantasy Records offered them a deal, and Carson took my place. In the meantime I was working with Vido Musso, and I was madder than hell!”
The resulting session for Fantasy produced four outstanding tracks; two of the tunes were named after local DJs, thereby ensuring heavy rotation on the local San Francisco radio stations. ‘Line For Lyons’ was named after KNBC’s Jimmy Lyons, an early champion of Dave Brubeck. ‘Bark For Barksdale’, meanwhile, was named after ‘Big’ Don Barksdale. A third track, ‘Carioca’, was a Latin-tinged dance tune taken from the movie Flying Down to Rio, which featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Baker’s airy trumpet gliding over the tune as effortlessly as Astaire moved across the dance floor.
Searching for a final song to complete the session, bass player Carson Smith suggested a Rogers and Hart ballad that he had recently come across, entitled ‘My Funny Valentine’. The song was originally performed in the now obscure musical Babes in Arms, sung by Mitzi Green in the role of Susie Ward, and was later sung by Judy Garland in a 1939 film version of the musical. Smith later recalled that his colleagues were not familiar with the tune, so he sang them the melody. His recollection does not ring entirely true on this issue, as Chet and others had been playing the tune around L.A. for a number of years before this.
Smith and Mulligan then developed a relatively simple arrangement that highlighted the aching tone of Chet’s trumpet. Mulligan later attributed the success of the arrangement to Carson Smith, saying, “a lot of the good ideas in the early quartet were his. For instance, the idea of doing ‘My Funny Valentine’ with that moving bass line, which makes the arrangement, was Carson’s.”38
In retrospect, it is clear that Gerry Mulligan was setting out to provoke Bob Whitlock with these comments. He would have been well aware that the distinctive descending chromatic line was written by Richard Rogers himself, rather than Carson Smith. In the same interview he even goes on to describe Carson Smith as the band’s “original bass player”, undermining the enormous contribution of Whitlock to the formation of the quartet’s distinctive sound. “It’s no secret that Gerry resented me for leaving the group,” Whitlock later explained. “Even though I returned within a few weeks he never really got over my having the audacity to leave in the first place. I left because I didn’t see anything on the horizon with Gerry, and I was getting desperate for some income. If that was disloyal, then so be it. But for God’s sake, to flat out deny someone’s existence for the better part of a year with such casual disdain some forty years later seems a bit extreme! Pardon me, but I have to wonder what kind of person does a thing like that.”39
Whilst Mulligan attributes the success of the arrangement to the bass line, the record’s success predominantly reflected the lyricism of Chet playing. His soft, mournful tone gives the tune a haunting quality that has not dimmed with the passing years. Carson Smith agreed that Chet’s tone was the key to the record’s success. “After Fantasy released those records, everybody knew that this new voice of Chet Baker was the thing,” he said. “All of a sudden everybody was talking about Chet.” ‘
My Funny Valentine’ went on to become a big hit, both on the airwaves and with the jazz critics, helping to establish the reputation of the quartet. In DownBeat magazine, Ralph Gleason raved over the band’s “fantastic, fugue-ish, funky, swinging and contrapuntal sound.” He singled out Chet Baker for special praise, suggesting that once he worked out how “to project his personality to the audience and not rely on the music completely, he should be sensational.”40
Returning to Los Angeles in late September, John Bennett was quick to cash in on the quartet’s newfound success, signing them up for four weeks to headline at The Haig; it was a period that would eventually stretch into several months as the group continued to grow in popularity. Whilst Carson Smith played adequately on the Fantasy session, Chet preferred the playing of Bob Whitlock, and suggested Gerry called him to see if he wanted to return to the band. He had no hesitation. “After a few weeks of ‘Come Back To Sorrento’, I was ready to return as Gerry’s gardener,” he laughed.41
The quartet now had the opportunity to work together on a more regular basis, no longer limited to Monday nights, and the group’s dynamic continued to evolve. Gerry’s musical relationship with Chet, in particular, moved to another level, as they started to play off one another, each trying to anticipate what the other would play. As Mulligan later recalled: “Chet and I would sometimes play tunes that we never even discussed, and one or the other of us would just start playing it. We would wind up doing something with it that would sound like an organised arrangement, so people couldn’t really tell whether we had worked it out or not. We were also able to do something that, to this day, I don’t think that many people are successful at—make convincing endings. We could go into some kind of a chord extension, a sequence at the end of a piece, that sounded like we worked it out. Each one could hear where the other was going and wind up making sense out of it, so that it sounded like it was written. Sometimes a whole night would go by, and we wouldn’t discuss what we were playing, and we would hardly play anything that we would normally play on other nights. We would just play a whole bunch of different things. And that was one of the joys of playing with Chet because we were able to work together so easily in that way. I had never experienced anything like that before and not really since.”
Local musicians flocked to the club to hear the new group that all the critics were talking about. The pianist Russ Freeman, who was working at The Lighthouse club, remembers witnessing the quartet at this time. “A lot of things that were being done on the West Coast were, in retrospect, really not very good. But Gerry and Chet were astonishing. They had a rapport between them that was unique—like an intuitive conversation. You’d think ‘Well, they’ve got this stuff worked out—he’s going to come in here, and he’s coming in here’—but it wasn’t that way at all. Whatever they played, it was different every time.”
Bill Holman, an arranger himself, was also impressed by the way the quartet coped without a piano. “Not having a chordal instrument seemed to take a lot of the urgency away from the music. They could really relax, and listen to each other. Of course, Gerry had the musical knowledge, which, together with the bass, enabled him to make some sort of harmonic implication. And Chet, amazingly, went along with what Gerry was trying to do. Some guys would probably have rebelled a little bit, because Gerry could be kind of a taskmaster. But Chet really fitted in well—two strong personalities managed to co-exist. The group was just great.”42
Despite their chemistry on the bandstand, the musicians did not get on particularly well offstage. Chet used to socialise with his old friend Bob Whitlock. “He was my closest friend,” the bass player explained. “We would spend whole days together, and we always knew we could count on each other.” Chet and Gerry were never tight, with Gerry despairing of Chet’s youthful antics, and their relationship gradually deteriorated as the band ran its course.
Chico Hamilton found Gerry Mulligan’s manner to be somewhat intimidating. He also chose to keep his distance, to some extent, because of the saxophonist’s involvement with drugs. “He and Chet were both a little bit into the drug thing,” he told Gordon Jack, author of Fifties Jazz Talk. “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.”
Despite Bob Whitlock’s own battle with drug addiction, the drummer treated him as a younger 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,” he said. “I liked Chico, and was always happy to see him coming down the pike.”43
Dick Bock was only too aware of the quartet’s rapid development, and having missed out on the group’s breakthrough recording, which came out on Fantasy, was keen to return to the recording studio. The band cut six new tunes over two days in mid-October; together with the original 78-rpm single, recorded two months earlier, there was enough material for a ten-inch LP. Mulligan wrote half of the new tunes, which comprised ‘Nights at the Turntable,’ ‘Walkin’ Shoes’ and ‘Soft Shoe’, all of which were taken at a mid-tempo, designed to highlight the interplay between the two horns. Chet contributed a tune of his own, an uptempo number called ‘Freeway’, with two standards completing the line up.”
Gerry wrote practically all of the originals himself, but on standards, show tunes and ballads he not only encouraged but expected everyone to improvise on arrangements,” Whitlock explained. “That was the beauty of it. The arrangements were not static. Just no anarchy, please! When everyone was on the same page, it could be very exciting. Having said all that, it was Gerry’s inimitable presence that drove and defined the character and flavour of the group.”44
Chet plays with greater confidence and creativity at this second session for Pacific Jazz, a result of the growing chemistry within the band, and the fact that he was beginning to feel more at ease in the confines of the recording studio. The producer, Dick Bock, once suggested that the group’s initial success was partly down to him, claiming “when we made the first quartet records, [Chet] was still pretty immature, and I had to do a lot of editing and splicing to make complete solos without any fluffs.”
Chet reacted angrily to this suggestion, turning on his early mentor. “He’s full of shit. I never had any solos spliced. The only credit that man deserves is that he was able to borrow three hundred dollars [sic] from Roy Harte, who had a drum store there in Hollywood, to rent the studios and pay the union wages for the record date. He knows nothing about music whatsoever in any way.”45
Chet’s reaction seems unduly harsh, particularly given the support Bock offered him in later years, when he had a family and a drug habit to support. When the jazz record producer Michael Cuscuna unearthed the original master tapes in the early 1980s, he did indeed find numerous splices. Pianist Russ Freeman confirmed that this was considered common practice at Pacific Records. “My rationale was, recording is very difficult,” he reasoned. “Go into a studio, and somebody points a finger at you and says, ‘Ok, make magic’.”
The ten-inch LP was well received in the jazz press, winning a four-star review from the influential DownBeat magazine. “Mulligan’s baritone, Chet Baker’s trumpet, Chico Hamilton’s drums, and Bob Whitlock’s bass share the credit about evenly. Mulligan, who presumably did most of the arrangements, deserves an extra salvo for his economical and efficaciously simple use of the limited instrumentation. A couple of his originals [sic], notably Freeway, have quite a melodic charm too.”46
The magazine’s only note of reservation concerned the absence of piano on the recording, noting, “we can’t hear anything in the music that wouldn’t have sounded even better with a piano rounding out the rhythmic underline…”
Mulligan was incensed by these comments. He had gone to the trouble of explaining his rationale for recording without a piano in the liner notes to the record. “I consider the string bass to be the basis of the sound of the group; the foundation on which the soloist builds his line, the main thread around which the two horns weave their contrapuntal interplay. It is possible with two voices to imply the sound or impart the feeling of any chord or series of chords, as Bach shows us so thoroughly and enjoyably in his inventions.” The band’s unique sound owed more to King Oliver and the Dixieland sound than Bach, of course, as Mulligan himself acknowledged, but by bringing Bach into the equation, he presumably hoped to undermine his critics.
More than fifty years on, it’s perhaps worth pausing to analyse why the Gerry Mulligan Quartet was so well regarded at the time. Firstly, from a simplistic perspective, the music provided a stark contrast to bop. The ordered, sometimes chamber-like arrangements were an extension of the ‘cool’ sound pioneered by Mulligan, Evans and Davis in the late 1940s, but stripped back to the bare essentials. It sounded fresh and original then, a cool, fresh breeze after the storm of bop, and has stood the test of time remarkably well. Secondly, the absence of a piano allowed the musicians to improvise without the safety net of predictable chord progressions; as Chico Hamilton noted, it forced the musicians to listen to one another, providing support where necessary, but also the freedom to explore new directions. Such an arrangement was well suited to Chet, who played by ear, and could respond with ease to anything suggested by the other musicians. Thirdly, it’s worth remembering that, in addition to being a superb arranger, Mulligan was a composer of some note; tunes like ‘Nights at the Turntable’ and ‘Walkin’ Shoes’ were minor gems, with a relaxed, easy swing and a clean, uncluttered sound. Last, but not least, the band’s success can be partly attributed to Chet Baker himself; he may have lacked the technical prowess of a Dizzy Gillespie, but he was still a phenomenal musician with a quite unique sound—a star in the making, even at the tender age of twenty-three.
Soon after the recording session, the Quartet travelled to San Francisco for a return engagement at the Blackhawk, which started on 21st October, and lasted for two-and-a-half weeks. Bobby White took the place of Chico Hamilton for that particular gig. Bob Whitlock cannot remember the reason for Chico’s absence, but wondered if he might have been offered an engagement with his former employer Lena Horne, which would have been far better paid.
Back in Los Angeles, the press controversy over the ‘pianoless’ quartet continued to attract a range of musicians to The Haig. “The greatest guy that I saw come there was Leonard Rosenman, who wrote the music for ‘East of Eden’,” said Bob Whitlock. “He wrote some really beautiful passages. I figured that if a guy like that is coming in, we must be on the right track.”47
Some of the biggest names in jazz continued to drop by, too, many of them asking to sit in as the night wore on. “Buddy Rich was just unforgettable,” Walter Norris recalled. “The first title he sounded like Buddy Rich, the second title he sounded like he’d been working with the group for a year. He just adapted that quickly, he was an exceptional talent in that way. Stan Getz came in. There was a whole evening of Oscar Pettiford playing cello; Gerry was just shaking his head in disbelief. The recordings of Oscar playing cello could never equal that night. It was a club that when you played, you felt very uninhibited.”48
The club also started to attract a smattering of celebrities around this time. “William Holden dropped by with Deborah Kerr one evening,” recalled Bob Whitlock. “They were magnificent, just beautifully behaved. They sat right up close to the bandstand, and they hardly made a sound—they were so courteous. I remember thinking, ‘I’ve been so many times to the movies to see these people, and now they’re coming to see us!’ I got a real kick out of it.”49
Gerry Mulligan took full advantage of celebrity guests in the club, acknowledging them from the stage, and thanking them for coming, which in turn encouraged them to bring their friends. “Gerry was very adept,” said Whitlock. “He was a much better politician than people gave him credit for.”
After a while, Mulligan started to play on his reputation as a perfectionist. “He would just wait for anyone to make a noise, or clink a glass, or laugh, or do something out of line,” said Bob Whitlock. “He thought it was Carnegie Hall, or something. Anyone caught talking at the table, bam, he’d read them off. And you know what? People loved it. It was like when Miles Davis turned his back on people at concerts. They just seemed to get a kick out of it. Gerry used that as a gimmick; he couldn’t wait to stop the band and chastise a member of the audience. That’s how we became known as the ‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Wilshire Boulevard!’”50 T
he press liked to pick on Mulligan over his treatment of paying customers. Bill Brown, who wrote the ‘Jazz Beat’ column in the L.A. Daily News, wrote, “We heard Mulligan at The Haig recently and were appalled by the speech he made to the ‘parvenue’ customers … his records are better than his live performances because the speech is omitted … a new sound is alright, but so is the H-bomb.”51 Mulligan was savvy enough to know good publicity from bad publicity, and had the last laugh as the lines continued to form outside the tiny club.
Of course, Mulligan was not the only band member to attract attention. Chet’s playing continued to develop over this period, a fact noted by the many visiting musicians. “He was like a comet blazing, he was unstoppable’” recalled tenor saxophonist Jack Montrose. “There was nothing he couldn’t play or do. He was a phenomenon.” A young Herb Alpert, just seventeen years old, was also blown away by Chet’s natural ability. “Chet could play with lightning speed, those even eighth notes,” he noted. “It was mystifying to most trumpet players, because we all got the feeling he didn’t really practice.”52
Gerry could not help but notice the attention Chet was receiving, and tried to give people the impression that it was he who had discovered the young trumpet star. “That didn’t sit well with Chet at all,” remembered Whitlock. “Any time Gerry tried to promote that idea, Chet would step in and shoot it down. I’m sure they respected each other musically, but they weren’t the best of friends.”
It wasn’t only the local jazz community that was drawn to the rising star; pretty soon Chet was attracting the attention of jazz fans, eager to talk to the hip musicians, and young ladies, desperate to attract the attention of the handsome trumpet player. But in many respects, he was ill-equipped to deal with the attention he was now receiving. “When you have such early success, maybe you don’t question yourself and your music in a way in which you would if you don’t have that early success. I don’t think he questioned anything,” said jazz pianist Walter Norris. “He just went straight ahead with his life. He was very decadent in that respect. He was not an intellectual, he was not thinking heavily about anything. He was just very carefree.”53
Whilst Gerry revelled in the spotlight, and played up to the audience, Chet tended to be shy, almost cold, with strangers, and struggled to engage them in any kind of meaningful conversation.
One form of escape was with the women who sought his attention. After two years of tantrums and jealous rages over Charlaine’s flirtatious behaviour, Chet took a childlike pleasure in gaining revenge, openly parading his conquests in front of his tearful wife, who sat alone at the bar. “Chet got famous when we started playing at The Haig,” recalled Bob Whitlock. “Movie stars started to come in, and things started to change radically for him. All these women used to come on to him. I don’t want to be crude, but he was banging everything in sight.”
Chet’s behaviour didn’t endear him to the band’s drummer, Chico Hamilton [Here, Ruddick has Chico confused with Larry Bunker]. “He was a brilliantly talented juvenile delinquent and not someone I could get next to, because I couldn’t abide his attitude,” he told Gordon Jack. “He was married to a lovely lady named Charlaine 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 he could be incredibly sensitive in his playing.”54
Chet’s other release was marijuana, and despite Gerry’s concerns, he regularly smoked a joint between sets, oblivious to the risks of the police patrols in the area. Chet’s reputation as a pothead finally caught up with him just before Christmas, the night of his twenty-third birthday, when a policeman caught Chet and Bob Whitlock smoking weed in Chet’s car between sets. As Chet later described the incident, “It happened one night during a break. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot getting high with two other musicians when a police car came through, and seeing us, stopped.”55 One of the cops was from Oklahoma. “He got talking to Chet,” recalled Whitlock, “found out he was from Oklahoma, and said to him, ‘Well, I’m going to search the car, and if you’re telling me the truth, and this is all you’ve got, I’ll let you off with a warning’. He proceeded to search the car, and he found a whole lid in the side panel of the door, and took us off to jail.”56
Chet and Bob spent the Christmas holiday in jail. Chet ended up taking the rap, and had Bob cut loose. In the end, he was lucky to only receive three months’ probation given his previous brushes with the law. But when the two musicians returned to the club a few nights later, Bob Whitlock was astonished to find that Gerry held him responsible. “All the time we were at The Haig, all through 1952, I was using [heroin] pretty good,” remembered Whitlock. “Gerry was also using, but he was using on the sly. If you can imagine, we did not even know what he was doing! I remember being amazed. We had a ferocious bust-up in The Haig one night, and I thought we were going to come to blows.
“‘No, you’re fired!’
“‘No, I quit.’
“We were like a couple of children,” he said. “Unfortunately it went so far there was no redeeming it. All this time he was using, so that’s what he was so mad about—that they might turn up the heat on him! I knew he had used in the past, but I thought he was keeping pretty clean. I don’t know how he hid it as well as he did.”
Mulligan’s secret was safe for now, but just four months later, his own world would come crashing down, and with it, the future of the quartet itself. In the meantime, Whitlock returned to his hometown of Utah, vowing not to return to the West Coast until he was clean. “It was a good thing for me, in a way. I was getting really out of line with the drug thing. Three of my cousins were out visiting from Utah for the Christmas holidays. So three or four days after New Year’s I got in a car with them and went back to Utah. They almost kidnapped me; I guess they saw me potentially getting in a lot of trouble. I didn’t come back until midway through 1953.”57.
Bob Whitlock was replaced by Carson Smith, and in early January the quartet returned to the studio to cut four more songs for Fantasy Records, sufficient to both fulfil their contract and to fill a ten-inch LP. The band recorded two Mulligan originals, ‘Limelight’ and ‘Turnstile’, as well as covers of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘Moonlight in Vermont’. The album, which included four tunes cut the previous September in San Francisco, received a four-star review in DownBeat magazine. “‘Tramp’ shows to what humorously effective use these guys can put their two horns and two rhythm [sic]. ‘Vermont’ has Chet backed by what sounds like two horns—actually Mulligan blowing and drummer Chico Hamilton humming. Bassist Carson Smith lends plenty of tonal colour to this one. ‘Limelight’, another rapid GM original, is mostly unison in the first chorus. Baker casts his beatful bread upon the waters again to strong effect, and Chico has a couple of discreetly underplayed spots. Both sides conclude with a snatch of Mulligan’s theme, which, peculiarly enough, sounds like Dixieland.”58
Around this time, Chet started to have an extramarital affair with an old friend by the name of Joyce Tucker—the daughter of Jack Tucker, who owned the nearby Tiffany Club. Joyce had worked as a child actress in the movies, and later worked as a model in New York. “I ruined my father’s life when I fell in love with Bird at twelve, and played ‘Embraceable You’ one hundred and forty-seven times in a row. He heard this, and understood. He had been a dancer on Broadway, my mother had been a dancer on Broadway, and he ended up by opening the club.”59
Her early love of jazz saw her meet a number of musicians in New York, including Gerry Mulligan and her childhood hero, Charlie Parker. “I saw terrible things when I was very young. When I was about fourteen I knew Donna Lee; you know Donna Lee, the Bird tune? I knew her; she was a gorgeous young thing, did heroin, and before you knew it, she was gone. She died very young.”60
Back on the West Coast, she met and married a young clarinet and saxophone player, Marvin ‘Marv’ Koral, who went on to become a member of Tommy Dorsey’s band. She first encountered Chet playing at the Showtime Club, and she and her husband went on to become close friends with Chet and Charlaine. By 1952, Joyce had got a job working as a camera girl at the Ambassador Hotel, just across the road from The Haig. “My father’s club was on one side of the Ambassador Hotel, and The Haig was on the other side. I was working in the main showroom, where they had all of the biggest people, and I was working as a camera girl, not as a musician. I was the only camera girl there, which was a great job because it was like 9–12 p.m., and I was in the middle of all the music after that. It was probably late 1952 or early 1953 when we started having an affair.”61
What started out as a surreptitious affair, some stolen moments in the back of Chet’s parked car, soon became more serious, the couple making excuses to their partners to go out on romantic day trips along the California coast. “He started singing when we used to go for long drives in the car,” Joyce recalled, still relishing the memory. “His singing was much like his playing.” Chet’s reckless nature made it difficult to keep a lid on their secret for very long. Russ Freeman remembered attending a party one evening, and seeing Chet lying on the floor, Joyce by his side, shouting, “I wanna fuck!”
Taking chances like this, it was only a question of time before one or other partner found out about the affair. After a few months, Chet received a tearful phone call from Joyce, informing him that her husband had found out, and gone crazy. “A half dozen of us drove out to the Korals’ house,” remembered bass player Carson Smith. “She opened the door, and Marv had trashed the entire place. He had dumped the refrigerator over, torn up the stove, ripped open the sofa, cut open the mattresses on the bed, broken all the windows. It was unbelievable. He’d gone absolutely nuts.”
Joyce remembered that Chet felt guilty over what happened, and is convinced that this is the reason why Chet never wrote about their affair in his memoirs. “We had a love affair that was nasty, because the four of us were good friends. It was one of the only things that no matter what stuff he did, he was embarrassed about; that’s why he never wrote about it. It ended up quite badly.” The affair devastated Marvin, and the following year he left Los Angeles to move to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he later led several orchestras.
In the meantime, Gerry Mulligan had started work on a more ambitious project, arranging music for a larger band once more. “I started the tentet as a rehearsal band to have something to write for,” Mulligan recalled, and persuaded John Bennett to let him use the club during the daytime. Chet does not seem to have been that enthused by the new project at first, preferring to avoid rehearsals and spend his time with Joyce Tucker, or hanging out with friends. Chet’s attitude didn’t sit well with Gerry, who felt that he was putting in the hard work while Chet went skiing and hiking, and he initially brought in Pete Candoli on trumpet. When it was time to record, Chet was available, and Candoli was relegated to second trumpet. “In the event, Chet wound up playing most of the lead parts anyway,” said Mulligan, “And I had Pete who was a high note man on second trumpet!”
The tentet album was recorded for Capitol records, rather than Pacific Jazz, suggesting that Bock was less enthusiastic about Mulligan’s experiment. The circumstances under which the band ended up recording for Capitol were confused, as Mulligan later revealed, and go some way to explaining why the band only recorded on the one occasion. “After a time, Gene Norman, a Los Angeles promoter and disc jockey, came to me and said he’d like to record the band. Since no one else had suggested recording us, I said yes. The irony, as I found out later, was that Gene had no American Federation of Musicians’ recording license of his own and planned to offer the date to Capitol if he could record on their license. Bill Miller of Capitol told me later that he had heard about the band from musicians and was planning to come to The Haig to discuss recording when Gene came to him with his proposal. Since Bill felt it would be unethical to pursue the project directly for Capitol we ultimately did the album for Gene … I have the feeling that if we had been recording for Bill Miller we might have [had] some more albums to show for our work.”62
“The tentet is essentially my original quartet with Chet Baker combined with the ensemble instrumentation of the Miles Davis Nonet,” Mulligan explained. “Musically I think the ensemble worked perfectly with the quartet concept and the band was very easy to write for. I would like to have pursued it further at that time, but c’est la vie.” In terms of both instrumentation and sound, the tentet was indeed similar to the Birth Of The Cool band, consisting of two trumpets, two baritone saxophones, alto saxophone, valve trombone, French horn, tuba, bass and drums. The other notable feature of the tentet was the continued absence of piano on most tunes, although Mulligan himself contributed piano to the odd track. On the original liner notes, Mulligan notes that “the piano seems to get in the way. The group swings better without it.”
Chico Hamilton [this quotation should be attributed to Larry Bunker] was astonished to see how Mulligan’s mind worked when arranging for the larger group. “I remember he did something really wild when we recorded those tentet things,” he later recalled. “We rehearsed one of the pieces, and after we made a take on it, we listened to the playback. Gerry flopped down to 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, ‘OK, 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.”63
The resulting album was far closer in style to the Birth of the Cool band than Gerry’s own tentet recordings from 1951. Both the tentet and the ‘Cool’ groups recorded ‘Rocker’, and the arrangement is strikingly similar, although Mulligan does remove the thematic variation he had written for the close of the earlier recording. There are also strong similarities between the Gil Evans arrangement of ‘Moon Dreams’, recorded in 1950, and Gerry Mulligan’s ‘A Ballad’. ‘Walkin’ Shoes’ was the only tune recorded by both the quartet and the tentet, although the influence of the quartet also comes across on the Mulligan original, ‘Westwood Walk’.
The record was eventually released in October 1953, by which time the quartet had effectively disbanded, and it is partly for this reason that the recording is not better known. DownBeat magazine awarded the record a five-star review. “The rich diversity of orchestrated tonal hues is what gives this set its fifth star. The solos, though secondary, are almost completely, and justifiably, monopolised by Mulligan and Chet Baker.” The parallels with the Birth of the Cool sessions were also noted. “Gerry switches to piano on three tunes, including the attractive ‘Ontet’,” noted the reviewer. “(The) latter is based on the last chorus of ‘Godchild’, which he scored for the Davis date.”64
At around the same time as the tentet recording took place in late January 1953, probably in an attempt to appease Bock, Mulligan suggested that Pacific Jazz record the quartet live at The Haig, with a view to an eventual album release. One evening the alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, an acquaintance of Mulligan’s from Claude Thornhill and Birth Of The Cool days, stopped by the club, and sat in with the band. They recorded six songs, and encouraged by the instant bonding of the musicians, Konitz joined them for two further studio sessions.
The precise date of these historic recording sessions remains unclear. As Michael Cuscuna explains in the CD release of these sessions, released as Konitz Meets Mulligan, “because of the liner note information given by producer Dick Bock, it was assumed that these three sessions took place in June of ’53. But actually, several of the titles were released months before then. And in June, Konitz was thousands of miles away from Los Angeles earning his living with the Stan Kenton orchestra.”
The live recording almost certainly took place on January 25th, the date provided on the original liner notes to the twelve-inch album Lee Konitz Plays with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet.
Lee Konitz sounds far less introspective than on his studio recordings from this era, and appears to have enjoyed his freedom from the confines of the Kenton band. Gerry Mulligan seems content to allow the alto saxophonist the majority of the solos, and Konitz takes full advantage, delivering lengthy and seemingly effortless improvisation on up-tempo numbers such as ‘Too Marvelous for Words’ and ‘Bernie’s Tune’. On the two ballads, ‘Lover Man’ and ‘These Foolish Things’, Konitz returns to the more relaxed style with which he is usually associated. Chet sounds less assured than usual on these recordings, perhaps unhappy at having to share the spotlight with Gerry’s old friend.
There is greater uncertainty over the timing of the subsequent studio recordings. Three tracks were probably recorded at around the same time, most likely in the Turetsky bungalow on January 30th, the date listed in Jorgen Jepsen’s Jazz Records. That said, he confuses the studio and live recordings in this discography, so the uncertainty remains. Either way, ‘Lady Be Good’, ‘Sextet’ and ‘I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me’ were released in May as part of a ten-inch LP, so the timing looks about right. Three other studio cuts were made with Konitz, and whilst the date is not known, the session may have taken place as early as February 1st, again in the Turetsky studio.
The studio recordings were well received by DownBeat magazine, which described the record as “as inspired a session as we’ve heard in months. Though we briefly resented the addition of another horn to the compact quartet, Lee’s tremendous contribution soon dispelled the feeling. ‘Sextet’ is a bubbling Mulligan original on which all three men, in near perfect rapport, play the line in unison before soloing. ‘Lover Man’ is all Konitz with Gerry and Chet supplying only some murmuring background. Lee’s faultless technique and lovely sound were never in better evidence …”.
Despite DownBeat’s four-star review, the studio recordings sound a little anaemic after the fiery live recordings, the solos kept short to fit in with the three-minute format of the 78-rpm single era.
As January came to a close, drummer Chico Hamilton told Gerry of his intention to quit the band to go back to work with singer Lena Horne. “Chico was offered quite a bit more money to travel with Lena,” recalled Bock. “It was a difficult decision to make, but being the father of two children, he was obliged to go where he could earn more. Because The Haig was small, the quartet could not earn much more than union scale out of the operation.” Hamilton was replaced by Larry Bunker, a versatile musician who was also adept at playing both the piano and vibes.
On the tiny stage at The Haig, the quartet continued to evolve, taking Mulligan’s basic arrangements to new levels every night. “The early Fantasy records with Gerry’s band are nothing compared with The Haig, when they had been playing those pieces every night for almost a year,” recalled pianist Walter Norris. “I don’t think they got along that well, but when they were on the bandstand playing, they intuitively sparked the other one to do something. They could make it work; in other words, it was a gamble, inspiring the other one to do something, and it turns into something which is a big surprise to them both. After the songs they’d be shaking their heads, as though they couldn’t quite believe it had come off. Playing every night for that length of time they were so conditioned and in-shape, physically and mentally, that they could make it happen like magic. It was unbelievable.”65
Still relatively clean-living, and in good shape physically, Chet’s own playing continued to develop in this environment. “His solos were just sparkling with inventiveness and fire; I don’t think Chet ever played like that since. I think that was his best period,” said Norris.
As if the favourable reviews in the jazz press were not enough, Time magazine published a glowing review of the group’s Haig concerts in early February, providing nationwide publicity for the group, and helping to broaden the appeal of the band beyond its traditional jazz audience, to lovers of classical music, too. The article included a photograph of Mulligan performing in a conservative suit and tie, and citing his influences as Stravinsky, Ravel, Prokofiev and Bach. In retrospect, the article sets the tone for the growth in popularity of jazz amongst white, college-educated Americans that took place in the mid-1950s. Mulligan also used the article to announce his future plans, which included an enlarged band and a nationwide tour. “I’ve got to keep moving,” he said. “I’ve got to grow.”66
The article was good for business, of course. “On weekends more people could be found inside waiting in line to get in than were actually inside,” recalled Dick Bock. Walter Norris thought that the club’s convenient location also contributed to the band’s successful stint at The Haig. “The Haig was located about fifty yards off of Wilshire Boulevard; it was a dead end, and if the road had gone straight, it would have gone directly into the Ambassador Hotel, The Coconut Grove. The Brown Derby was one block away on Wilshire Boulevard itself; it was a very nice restaurant and club, everyone used to go there, it was very popular. Olly Hammond’s restaurant, all night long, was very popular, and was next door. So there were a lot of people walking along the street, or pulling up there in cars, and The Haig was just around the corner. There were lines at the weekend to get in, people who’d eaten nearby and would drop in at The Haig”.67.
Soon after the Time magazine article was published, rumours began to circulate that Getz wanted to combine his own band with that of Mulligan. The story had its roots in Stan’s Boston engagement at the Hi-Hat in December 1952, where he was playing with Bob Brookmeyer. One night, between sets, Getz was discussing the current jazz scene with Nat Hentoff, and the talk got round to Mulligan’s quartet, which had impressed Getz. “I sat in with them when I was last on the coast and felt so good about the things Gerry was doing,” Getz recalled. “I told Nat I’d like to do something combining the good features of both of our groups.”68
Hentoff wrote a story around his conversation with Getz, which eventually appeared in DownBeat magazine on February 25th 1953. It was the first Mulligan had heard of any such plan, and he reacted angrily, sparking a minor war of words between the two bandleaders. “I don’t know just what Stan has in mind here when he talks of adding me and Chet to his combo, joining me, or whatever it is, but it’s not for me. I have my quartet. Stan has his combo, and I’m sure it’s good. But if we got together, we’d have a band with two leaders, unless Stan was willing to be just a figurehead—and I don’t think that’s what he had in mind,” Mulligan wrote in a letter to DownBeat in mid-March. “For years I stayed in the background and wrote arrangements for many bands. Now, in the quartet, I have something that is all mine. I see no reason for sharing it with anyone.”
The letter is an excellent illustration of Mulligan’s sizeable ego, which would spill over from time to time and cause friction within the band. Stan Getz was not always the easiest of personalities to deal with, but on this occasion he chose to be tactful, and carefully revealed the roots of the misunderstanding to DownBeat. “It was half pleasant speculation on an ideal musical group, and half a serious thought toward a unit that could offer the musicians involved a happy working situation, a steady inter-flow of musical ideas and bookings and record dates, enough to keep the thing together,” he explained. “The point I feel should be cleared up is this: Gerry seemed to feel that I was looking to absorb him or his group into an organization of mine and relegate him to the position of arranger and behind-the-scenes brain of the group. This wasn’t anything like what I pictured.”69
Getz went on to explain that if such a band were to form, Gerry would have a free hand with the music, equal billing and equal financial reward. The explanation seemed to appease Mulligan, and when Getz opened at the Tiffany Club on June 8th, Getz and his band were regular guests at The Haig, watching the Mulligan Quartet in action. “Stanley and I spent so much time over at The Haig that the owner of the Tiffany Lounge said we obviously liked it so much more there than at his club we were fired,” Brookmeyer later recalled. “I had no alternative but to go back to Kansas.”70
Dick Bock encouraged the quartet to return to the studio in late February, where they cut four tracks, ‘Makin’ Whoopee’, ‘Motel’, ‘Cherry’, and ‘Carson City Stage’. The first two cuts were released as singles that spring, and the entire session was later combined with the first of the Lee Konitz studio collaborations, and released as a full-length LP (PJLP-2) in May to favourable reviews.
Whilst the group was enjoying increasing critical acclaim, there were growing frictions within the band, most notably between Mulligan and Baker. The difficulties stemmed from a variety of sources, and cannot be attributed to any one factor. First off, the two musicians might have been known for their interaction onstage, but offstage they were two quite distinct personalities. Gerry was two years older, relatively well educated and had enjoyed an extensive musical training. By contrast Chet was far less academic, and for the most part, still played music by ear. He was also less communicative than Gerry, and prone to childish, immature behaviour, which did not dovetail with Mulligan’s more regimented approach.
An example of the problems this caused occurred when it was time to plan new material for a forthcoming recording session. As the quartet’s main composer and arranger, Mulligan was keen to rehearse new ideas and songs in the afternoons, before the band took the stage in the evening. He later complained that Chet would “… always have this pack around— Californians, surfer types—and there’d always be five or six of them. We’d get done and these guys would drive up to the mountains to ski. By the time they got there, the sun was up. They’d ski through the morning then go down to the beach and sail. By then, the day’s gone by and Chet comes to the gig. He’d do that two, three days in a row, without sleeping, and his chops would dry out; he’d have trouble with chapped lips, and he’d start missing notes. I’d say to him, ‘Chet, have you ever heard of sleep? It’s a wonderful thing for your chops’.”71
No one else can remember Chet having problems with his chops at this time; by contrast, he was playing every night, and was probably in the best shape of any time during his long career. The issue arose from Mulligan’s desire for perfection, according to Joyce Tucker. “Gerry was so well polished musically, and was happy to rehearse one hundred times, even if he didn’t play it the same,” she recalled. “There was a resentment there somewhere.”
Bass player Bill Crow, who worked with Mulligan from 1956, remembered experiencing similar problems. “Oh, he was an egomaniac. But very likeable. I think that was part of what gave him that star quality, that made it possible for the rest of us to work … But he set a different standard for himself. I mean, he was good, he could really play well and he really knew what he was talking about when he talked about music, but sometimes he tried to hold his musicians to a higher standard of dedication to his music than he held himself. He used to drive me crazy sometimes, but in retrospect I must say that without Gerry I probably wouldn’t have learned as much about music as I did.”72
Chet’s behaviour used to antagonise Gerry, whether it was his tendency to hang out with his ‘surfer’ friends, firing water pistols at one another in the house, or his driving at breakneck speed around the city. “I don’t think Gerry and Chet got along particularly well,” Walter Norris later remembered. “Chet wasn’t that easy to get along with, and Gerry was very sure of himself, and capable of one-upmanship. I remember once between titles, Chet turned to Gerry and said, ‘I want a raise’. There was polite laughter in the audience, and Gerry said, ‘We can talk about that later’. And Chet said, ‘No, I want a raise before we play the next title!’ He was making $100 a week, which was very good, but he said, ‘I want $125’. Gerry turned to him and said, ‘I’m not going to discuss this, and I’m not going to give you $125. We’ll talk and argue later’. He announced the next song, and after it was over, Chet said, ‘I want $125!’ He was very primitive and stubborn when it came to bargaining. He sometimes acted a little bit like a spoiled child.”73
The rhythm section also suffered their fair share of run-ins with Mulligan. He kept firing bass player Carson Smith, claiming he was not playing what he was looking for, only to rehire him once he had calmed down. Drummer Larry Bunker was upset and being forced to play the same way as his predecessor Chico Hamilton. “You did as you were told,” he once recalled. “I think I reached the point where I didn’t even have a pair of drumsticks. It was all brushes—that’s all he wanted.”
Mulligan’s dominant behavioural characteristics were almost certainly exacerbated by his growing dependence on heroin at this time, which had got to the stage that it was no longer so easy to hide from other members of the band. Chet later claimed, “Gerry was not an easy person to get along with, especially since he was using. He was nervous and highly-strung, and sometimes I’d notice his long fingers would tremble as he played his horn.”74
Gerry Mulligan had broken up with girlfriend Gail Madden some months earlier, and with Chet still continuing his affair with Joyce Tucker, Gerry started to date her best friend, Jeffie Lee Boyd, a vivacious brunette who worked as a waitress at The Haig. “She had worked at the Tiffany for my father before I knew her, really,” recalled Joyce Tucker. “She went out for coffee with Gerry and they got married. She had no idea he was that into dope. She’d heard the stories, of course, but hadn’t seen anything.”
Gerry confessed his addiction on their honeymoon in Palm Springs, and announced his intention to go cold turkey. “I was supposed to help him,” Jeffie explained. “I was such a moron, what did I know? So I locked him in the room and went to lay by the pool. He started screaming for the doctor, and I kept saying, ‘No, you can’t have the doctor’. I left him there for three of four days. When we went home, he returned to being a junkie.”
While Gerry’s marriage was getting off to a difficult start, alto saxophonist Herb Geller filled in for him at The Haig. “One time I got a telephone call from Chet saying that Gerry was going to be off for a couple of weeks,” he remembered. “Gerry had eloped with one of the waitresses, so Chet asked me to take his place. The elopement, of whatever it was, didn’t last long. I played with Chet for about two weeks; the same group, but with me on alto. We just jammed, as Chet didn’t want to play any of the Mulligan tunes— I think we played ‘Bernie’s Tune’. He said, ‘Let’s play some standards, because I know lots of standards’. He called a tune like ‘Have You Met Miss Jones’ or ‘I Could Write A Book’—a lot of Richard Rogers and Gershwin tunes. I’d say, ‘Sure, I know that tune. What key?’ He never knew what key it was in. Larry Bunker would always say, ‘I remember, it’s in E-flat, you’re in E-natural, Chet, first and second valve position,’ and calling out the bass notes for Carson Smith. Larry Bunker was really a fantastic musician.”75
Mulligan returned to Los Angeles in late March, and a few days later the quartet returned to the studio with Pacific Jazz to record three more songs: ‘Festive Minor’, ‘All The Things You Are’ and ‘My Old Flame’. Only the last of these songs was released at the time, the other two tracks remaining in the vaults until Mosaic Records released a box set of the complete Pacific Jazz and Capitol recordings of the quartet some thirty years later.
Early April brought some unwelcome visitors to The Haig—the tall, bulky Sergeant John O’Grady, head of the Hollywood Narcotics Detail, and his sidekick Ruby Diaz, a tough Hispanic detective who scared even the hardiest of drug dealers. The two thickset police officers stood out amongst the hip, jazz-loving crowd, and made for an uncomfortable atmosphere in the small club. Gerry secretly blamed Chet for their presence; he had been busted in December the previous year, and had subsequently encountered O’Grady on numerous occasions, hoping to catch Chet smoking in his car between sets one more time. The two of them had exchanged words, and Gerry was convinced that O’Grady was out to nail him.
But unbeknown to Mulligan, O’Grady had a far broader agenda, a McCarthy-like campaign to “protect society against the creeping menace of drugs”. His childhood dream of entering the movie industry never came close to becoming a reality, and he took a perverse pleasure in targeting Hollywood entertainers, most notably the ‘jazz’ community. “I set out to destroy that crowd and damn near did,” he later boasted in his memoirs. “I ran Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker, the great saxophonist, out of town. I could have nailed him. His arms were covered with track marks form heroin needles. But he was too old and too drunk and I decided it wasn’t worth wasting the time …” Gerry Mulligan, who was beginning to show the telltale signs of using once more, and Chet Baker, who had only just completed his probation, were a far more enticing target, more likely to help him make his name.76
After a few days scouting the club, the detectives knew that Mulligan and Baker would be on their guard, and on April 13th they turned their attention to their home addresses. Chet’s house was dark, but as luck would have it, Gerry’s recent bride Jeffie was entertaining Chet’s wife Charlaine that evening. The unscrupulous O’Grady drove his unmarked police car into the back of Jeffie’s sports car, and rapped on the front door. When Jeffie answered the door, O’Grady explained that an accident had occurred, and offered to pay for the damage. As the young lady peered outside, O’Grady elbowed his way into the house.
Hearing the commotion, Chet’s wife grabbed a small container of cannabis and locked herself in the bathroom. O’Grady pounded on the door, but seconds later the cool Charlaine emerged, acting as though nothing untoward had occurred. “There was just enough grass still floating around in the toilet so that if they wanted to get it out, they could legally file on someone,” Chet later recalled. The furious detectives searched the premises, but found no other evidence of drugs or drug paraphernalia, so O’Grady charged the two women with possession of marijuana, a case that was unlikely to stand up in court, given the illegal entry.77
But O’Grady had more ambitious plans, and drove the two women back to The Haig, where he confronted the quartet backstage at the club. He made the band members take off their jackets and roll up their shirtsleeves. When Mulligan revealed fresh track marks on his arm, O’Grady knew he had his man. Gerry Mulligan’s cool exterior gave way to tears, and he agreed to accompany the police officers back to the house. “I went inside and Gerry went with the cops down the driveway to the back corner of the house,” recalled Chet. “And confusedly he gave them the evidence that they needed.” The evidence included a small amount of heroin and a variety of drug paraphernalia, including hypodermic needles and burned teaspoons. Mulligan was too shattered to be discovered in this way to realise that if he hadn’t led the police to his stash, they could only have charged him with using, a far less serious offence than possession.
The two couples were driven downtown, booked, locked up for an hour, and then released on bail, straight into the glare of the awaiting media. The following morning, the headline in the Los Angeles Mirror read, ‘HOT LIPS BOPSTER, AIDE AND 2 WIVES JAILED; NAB DOPE’. The accompanying photo shows a broken Mulligan, a bewildered Chet and their scared wives, Charlaine trying to cover her face in her coat.78
At the resulting hearing, Gerry took the rap for the small amount of marijuana that had been recovered from the scene, and was also charged with the more serious offence of heroin possession. A trial date was set for June. “We all pleaded not guilty, went to court, and beat it—except Gerry,” explained Chet. “It was like he was there one minute, and gone the next.”
Mulligan split with Jeffie shortly after the arrest, both of them aware that they had rushed into marriage, and that she was not equipped to deal with his addiction. He returned to The Haig, telling the other members of the quartet that he was hopeful of beating the charges.
The owner of Pacific Jazz, Dick Bock, was less convinced, and booked a recording studio for what turned out to be the final studio recording sessions of the original quartet. At the first session, which took place on 27th April, the group recorded ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ and two Mulligan originals, ‘Swing House’ and ‘Jeru’. The former is based on the changes to ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, whilst ‘Jeru’ is quite different in structure to the version recorded with the Birth of the Cool band, this time based on a conventional 32-bar, AABA arrangement, rather than an unorthodox structure. The second session produced a further five tunes, including ‘Darn That Dream’ and ‘Tea for Two’. The two sessions were combined to produce a single LP, which was to be the second and final LP devoted solely to the quartet.
A few days later, just weeks after his split with Jeffie, Mulligan married one of his old girlfriends, Arlyne Brown. Arlyne was the daughter of Lew Brown, who was part of the old songwriting team of DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, composers of such hits as ‘Sonny Boy’, written especially for Al Jolson, and ‘You’re the Cream in my Coffee’. Chet was unimpressed with Gerry’s choice of partner, describing her in vivid terms in his memoirs. “It seems Gerry was divorcing Jeffie and planned to marry Arlyne, which to my way of thinking had to be something like being in heaven one second and in hell the next. Arlyne was a short Jewish woman—not attractive. And looking as though she would gain weight easily; of course, I didn’t know about her mind. She must have given Gerry something he needed but on a purely physical basis, Jeffie was sweet and beautiful while Arlene was just a drag.”79
Despite their differences, Gerry thought enough of Chet to ask him to be best man at their wedding, but in the event Chet failed to show up. “Chet was supposed to be the best man at their wedding, and I was going to stand up for Arlyne, and be the lady-in-waiting, but Chet didn’t show,” recalled Joyce Tucker. “So I became the best man! ‘Doe’ (real name Dunya) Mitchell, who was married to Red Mitchell, became the lady-in-waiting. We were all very tight. The jazz scene was all very incestuous, with people having break-ups in music, just like they do with lovers.”80
We get to hear the quartet on one final occasion in late May, when Dick Bock decided to record the band onstage at The Haig. It’s not clear whether he intended to release a live EP or a full-length LP, but in the end, only three of the nine songs taped on May 20th were released at the time—‘Five Brothers’, ‘I Can’t Get Started’ and a poignant version of ‘My Funny Valentine’. The remaining tunes remained in the vault for thirty years, eventually released as part of a Mosaic Records box set. It’s hard to see why these recordings remained unreleased for so many years, since Bock was pleased with the results. “The intimacy of the club, with its unpretentious atmosphere, created a bond between the quartet and its audience that can be felt in these ‘in-person’ performances.” Listening to these recordings now, they clearly support the conventional wisdom that the quartet was more dynamic onstage than in the recording studio, where they were bound by strict time limits, and solos were kept to a minimum.
In June, his trial date fast approaching, Mulligan made the decision to go cold turkey, and try to quit heroin for good. He turned to his old friend Joyce Tucker—Chet’s old girlfriend—to help him get through the painful process, and moved into her small house out in the valley. “He came to me and said, ‘I have to get clean, I have to do it’,” she said. “‘But I have to be some place where I know that if I really go out my mind, I can reach what I need. I need to have a backyard where I can bury my stuff, leave it there for a few days. Will you do that for me?’ I said, ‘Of course, sure I will’. Not thinking that I could get busted for that!”81
While Mulligan took time off to sort out his drug problems, Stan Getz, whose Tiffany club engagement had just finished, filled in for Mulligan at The Haig. The club’s owner, John Bennett, who had a vested interest in hiring a big name, suggested trying tenor saxophonist Stan Getz. Getz’s successful partnership with guitarist Jimmy Raney had recently come to an end, and he was agreeable to the idea. On the face of it, it was a perfect match; two of the rising stars of the West Coast jazz scene, both known for their exquisite tone, both favouring a measured, lyrical approach to their playing, quite distinct from the frenetic, competitive style associated with bebop.
In practice, the recordings that exist of the Baker–Getz quartet suggest that there was little chemistry between the two musicians. This might be partly explained by the fact that the band was simply under-rehearsed; after all, Getz had stepped in at fairly short notice, and was playing with a fairly settled line-up that had played together most nights for the last several months. In addition to that, Getz would have been keen to impose his own playing style on the sound of the quartet, rather than simply ape Mulligan. On occasion Getz lends gentle support to Chet’s solo, whilst at other times he seems to get in the way, as if to suggest impatience with the way the trumpeter was developing his solo.
One can sense the intense competition within the band on these dates. Chet Baker had effectively inherited the leadership of the band from Gerry Mulligan, and would have been keen to stamp his own authority on the band, no longer content to remain the sideman. In addition, he would have remembered Getz’s egotistical nature, which had flared up some months before, when Getz proposed the idea of combining the Mulligan and Getz bands. In this sense it is notable, perhaps, that the set opens with ‘My Funny Valentine’, the tune most clearly associated with Baker as a soloist. Listening to the tune unfold, we hear the opening drum roll, the familiar, foreboding bass line of Carson Smith, then the fragile, haunting refrain from Chet Baker. Later we hear the background ‘singing’ of Smith and Bunker, a feature developed by the original quartet. Missing, however, is the haunting saxophone played beneath the solo. Whether this is by design, with Chet imposing his ‘leader’ status on the group, or reflects the petulance of Getz, who saw himself as the natural leader, it is difficult to say.
The songs selected for the set certainly appear to support the view that Baker saw himself as the group leader. Roughly one third of the songs recorded are associated with the Mulligan quartet, including ‘My Funny Valentine’, ‘Half Nelson’, ‘All The Things You Are’, ‘Bernie’s Tune’, and the Mulligan-penned ‘Soft Shoe’. At least two songs would have been familiar to Baker through his stint with Charlie Parker, including the Bird original ‘Yardbird Suite’ and the Miles Davis tune ‘Little Willie Leaps’. Others hint at Baker’s growing interest in the playing of Miles Davis himself, such as the inclusion of ‘Move’, which appeared on the Birth of The Cool album as well as ‘Little Willie Leaps’. Most of the other songs were standards, such as the Gershwin tune ‘Strike Up The Band’, and the nostalgic Jerome Kern ballad ‘Yesterdays’. Given the understanding that had developed between Mulligan and Baker, the original quartet was always going to be a tough act to follow. Given time, Baker may have developed a similar relationship with Getz, but the saxophonist’s surly nature suggested the partnership was never going to last for long. In fact it is notable that throughout his life, Getz was most closely associated with guitarists such as Jimmy Raney, João Gilberto and Charlie Byrd, and pianists such as Al Haig, Chick Corea and Kenny Barron, rather than fellow horn players.
The other notable feature of these recordings is that we get to hear Chet Baker stretch out as a soloist, clearly enjoying the freedom of playing outside the restrictive confines of Mulligan’s tightly arranged songs. ‘Soft Shoe’ is an obvious example, the song clocking in at over six minutes, compared with the two-and-a-half minute studio recording. In addition, Chet sounds more comfortable than previously on up-tempo recordings, taking tunes like ‘Strike Up The Band’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’ at a vigorous pace, maintaining a fairly even tone throughout. It seems as though Chet was trying to deliberately distance himself from his reputation as a romantic ballad player, a view confirmed by the first recordings of the Chet Baker Quartet just six weeks later.
Dick Bock saw the potential of the Baker–Getz quartet, and recorded the Haig show, although the tapes were not published until the 1980s, since Stan Getz was still under contract with Norman Grantz’s Clef and Norgran labels at the time. The recordings were eventually released as West Coast Live on the Pacific Jazz label.
At around this time, there were growing rumours circulating in the jazz community that Chet himself was starting to experiment with heroin on a more regular basis. He may well have been encouraged in this respect by Getz himself, a view held by Chet’s friend, percussionist Bill Loughborough. “Stan was always trying to get him to shoot up,” he recalled. “I always thought it was Stan that helped turn Chet into a junkie.”82
Pianist Walter Norris confirms that it was well known amongst musicians that Chet was starting to use heroin more regularly at this time, and was dangerous to hang around with. “In June I got a call to go and play at one of his jam sessions on one of his off nights, a Monday night,” he said. “I was the only one that came; there was no bass player and no drummer. They were probably afraid that either the police would be threatening, or they wouldn’t get paid, or something. So Chet and I played for a little bit, and talked, had a long conversation. I think he was flattered that I would show up, since no one else did, so he was in a talkative mood. At that stage he was taking drugs, but not heavily; he was trying to protect himself somewhat, and take as little as possible. He was taking heroin, even in those days.”83
It seems that Chet was able to keep his drug use under control at this time. “I don’t remember Chet using when he was at The Haig; I would take a chance, and swear that he didn’t—at least up until the time I left, which was January 1953,” recalled bass player Bob Whitlock. “What he did after that, I couldn’t vouch for. I got back in the summer, but I didn’t notice any change in his behaviour.”84
Mulligan, meanwhile, received word that his trial had been postponed until September, and returned to play at The Haig for a few more weeks, convinced that now he was clean, he was likely to escape with probation.
With Gerry’s return, Stan Getz decided to reform his quintet. Aside from Bob Brookmeyer and John Williams, he had recruited bassist Teddy Kotick, one of bebop’s finest, with an impeccable sense of timing and a vibrant tone. Kotick was working with both the Stan Getz Quintet and the Charlie Parker Quintet during this period. Drummer Frank Isola had played with Johnny Bothwell and Elliot Lawrence before joining Getz. The re-formed Stan Getz Quintet opened at Zardi’s club in Hollywood on July 21st 1953 for a successful run that lasted through the first week of September.
During their engagement at Zardi’s, Getz and Brookmeyer used to head over to The Haig, as they had done during their engagement at the Tiffany Club. This time they sat in with the Mulligan Quartet, both onstage at The Haig, and playing together in their spare time. “I remember a jam session at somebody’s house, probably Chet’s, and Stan, Bob, Chet and I were in the front line. We worked really well together, improvising on ensemble things that were great,” he said. “Stan decided we should all go out together as a group, only he wanted it to be his group! All of us just looked at him and said ‘Why?’ Musically it was too bad we couldn’t do it, but personality-wise I don’t think it would have worked. Stan was peculiar. If things were going along smoothly, he had to do something to louse it up, usually at someone else’s expense.”
Whilst Gerry blamed Stan for the differences, a more neutral Bob Brookmeyer saw it as a clash of egos between the two bandleaders. “It sounded simply wonderful with the four horns,” he remembered. “And for a while it looked as though this might be a band, but neither Gerry nor Stan could agree who would be leader.” Unable to resolve their differences, Gerry went behind Stan’s back, and asked the trombone player to join his quartet. Assuming he would be given a suspended sentence, he was planning his first nationwide tour with the band that fall. “Gerry asked me to join him as arranger and soloist, to go on the road as a quintet with him and Chet,” Brookmeyer recalled.85
In early August, the quartet’s original bass player, Bob Whitlock, returned to Los Angeles from Utah, where he had tried to get clean, away from the temptations of the jazz scene. “It was the first time I’d seen Chet in months, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come to work tonight? You can have your old job back if you want’,” he recalled. “Frankly, I wasn’t even sure I wanted my job back, as Gerry and I were still at odds. But I thought I’d go along, see how things worked out, and if they offered me the job, I might think about it. When I got there, they went up on to the stage, and started playing the first tune or two.”
At that point, Chet’s wife, Charlaine, walked into the club and joined Bob at the bar. “Chet and Charlaine were still together, but Chet was fucking everything that walked, two at a time,” he said. “He was treating her like a dog, which was really sad. She was lonely. She and I had always had a subtle kind of attraction to one another; we’d always joked about it, but had never actually done anything.”
She suggested they leave The Haig and head over to Zardi’s, where Stan Getz’s new quintet was playing. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s great. I don’t have to stay all night, I can come back later and find out what’s going on’. So we went over to Zardi’s, and one thing led to another, and we ended up in a motel room. We didn’t get back until 4.30, 5 o’clock in the morning. When we went inside the house, Chet was sitting at the kitchen table, glaring at me like he wanted to kill me. It was horrible. He was the first guy I went to see when I got back from Utah, and because of my own weakness, and the fact that I thought I could rationalise my behaviour—because of the way he treated her—I did a really stupid thing. I walked her in the house, saw the glare on his face, went out to my car, and drove back home to Long Beach. I figured he’d hate me for the rest of his life. And I think there was an element of truth to that.”
In the end, Chet and Bob were able to bury their differences, and he toured with the Chet Baker Quartet in early 1955; but Bob felt there was always lingering resentment on Chet’s part, an anger that eventually boiled over when their paths crossed in the late 1960s. “The very last time I saw him, we got into a savage fight that must have been related to that issue; a huge build-up of tension after years of being civil, like nothing had happened.”86
Gerry Mulligan eventually appeared in court in September, and found himself facing the distinguished judge Charles W. Fricke. Fricke was best known for his controversial handling of a murder case involving twenty-two Mexican–American defendants in 1942, a case which became known as the ‘Sleepy Lagoon’ trial. More important to Mulligan was his reputation as a ‘hanging’ judge, a reputation which stemmed from the 1935 murder trial of Nellie May Madison, who stood accused of murdering her husband. In the event, he treated Mulligan quite leniently. When Mulligan confirmed that the marijuana found in the house belonged to him, he reportedly leaned over to the saxophonist and whispered, “Son, you don’t want to say that.”
In the event, he ignored the marijuana charge, but convicted Mulligan for possession of heroin, sentencing him to six months in the Sheriff’s Honor Farm, an L.A. prison. A bitter Mulligan was led away, cursing his lawyers; he felt he’d done the decent thing, by taking the rap for the marijuana, but having led the police to his stash of heroin, he only had himself to blame.
As the band fell apart, some of the leading jazz critics started to question the success of the Mulligan Quartet, reassessing their hitherto positive assessments of the group’s achievement. Amongst the first to do so was Nat Hentoff, in his ‘Counterpoint’ column in DownBeat magazine:
“The musically adventurous deserve support, but they’re all served by indiscriminate adulation. I think specifically of the former Gerry Mulligan quartet. It was good, and the individual musicians were first rate, though even here Chet Baker has much evolving to do, new star though he be. But was the quartet really that brilliantly original? Weren’t the chords more barbershop harmony than anyone except a few musicians publicly noted? Was the counterpoint that contrapuntal or was that revived praiseword used quite loosely at times? And don’t the records—some of them—sound kind of dull on re-hearing?
As one who lauded the group loudly at initial hearings, I’m just wondering. Anyone for reflection?”87
Ralph Gleason, another early champion of the group’s cause, took the issues raised by Hentoff to the next level, describing the quartet as “the most overrated small band in jazz”. The group’s over-stylised sound was “boring me silly,'' he wrote in DownBeat, two weeks later. “Mulligan with or without piano and with or without his pretentious explanations of what he’s doing, is still a child when racked up against men like Duke.”
The backlash was probably inevitable, given the critical praise heaped on the quartet over the preceding months. After all, critics then, as now, are always on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’.
Unfortunately for Mulligan, Chet Baker was widely regarded as the next big thing. His first solo LP, recorded for Pacific Jazz with his own quartet, had received a five-star review in DownBeat magazine on its release in July. Two weeks later, before Mulligan’s trial had even taken place, the same publication interviewed him for a stand-alone article, introducing him as “an international jazz sensation”. By the end of the year, he had made his first vocal recording, and topped the DownBeat poll as best trumpet player, beating Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Maynard Ferguson and Miles Davis in the process.
Gerry Mulligan was released from the Honor Farm prison just after Christmas, that year. He ran into Chet on Hollywood Boulevard a few days later, and discussed a possible reunion. “We spoke right there on the street for a few minutes,” revealed Chet in his memoirs. “I said that I’d work for Gerry again, and that I didn’t care what we did—club dates, concerts, whatever— but I wanted three hundred dollars a week. ‘Not a lot of money under the circumstances,’ I said.”88
Mulligan told a slightly different version of events. “Instead of two musicians throwing their arms around each other and saying, ‘Oh, man, I’m glad to see you, pal’, forget it, man! Before he says hello or ‘Merry Christmas’ or anything, he says, ‘Listen, I’ve been thinking about it, and I gotta have more money’. He asked me for three or four hundred dollars. Well, considering that we were getting twelve hundred a week, out of which I had to pay commissions, a couple of other musicians, expenses, hotels, transportation, taxes, I don’t know where the hell he thought the money was coming from. I just laughed. It was like a scene out of a bad movie.”
The manner of the break-up was somewhat ironic; years later, when they got together for their short-lived 1974 reunion, Chet would complain that Mulligan had taken advantage of him financially, receiving the bulk of the royalties from the subsequent recording. “I guess that’s called taking care of business,” he complained. Chet’s manner may have been clumsy, his social skills lacking, but he was simply trying to take care of business. He was now a successful bandleader in his own right; he was offering to give up his solo career to put the original quartet back together, but in return he no longer expected to be paid as a sideman. Chet was probably close to the mark when he later dismissed Mulligan’s attitude as resentful. “Gerry’s so pissed off because I’ve been able to make it on my own, without him,” he complained. “He can’t hack that. I was supposed to be his trumpet player for life, I guess. He wouldn’t give me a raise, and I’d just been voted the best trumpet player in the world.”89
In the years that followed, Gerry Mulligan struggled to replicate the rapport he had developed with Chet Baker, hiring musicians such as valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and trumpet player Jon Eardley to effectively take on Chet’s role. “All the years with Brookmeyer we were able to anticipate each other, but still not in the same way and not with the same ease that happened with Chet,” he later admitted.
There were periodic attempts to reform the quartet, most notably when they recorded a new album in 1957, and when they played together at Carnegie Hall in 1974. Whilst there were occasional glimpses of the old magic, they found it hard to reproduce the chemistry that made the original quartet so special.
Years later, Bob Whitlock was asked to reflect upon what had made the group so popular in the early 1950s. “Showbiz, plain and simple,” he concluded. “Gerry knew the importance of variety in material and treatment, and he had an uncanny sense for pacing. We played not only standards and originals, but everything from Latin sambas to themes from Disney movies. There was something for everyone, and the caliber of musicianship was always convincing.
Also, it would be naïve to ignore some of the obvious gimmicks Gerry used—the slightest disturbance in the audience was his cue to stop the band in its tracks and make an example of the perpetrator. God, how the rest of the crowd ate it up!”90
1 Chet Baker, interview with Gudrun Endress, Jazz Podium magazine, 1978.
2 Gerry Mulligan from an interview with M. Abramson, Telegraph, November 20th 1959.
3 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress.
4 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress.
5 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress.
6 Miles Davis from Miles, The Autobiography.
7 Miles Davis from Miles, The Autobiography.
8 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress.
9 John Carisi from West Coast Jazz, by Ted Gioia.
10 Miles Davis from Miles, The Autobiography.
11 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 12 Miles Davis from Miles, The Autobiography.
13 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 14 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 15 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 16 Winthrop Sargeant from Jazz Hot and Hybrid.
17 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, July 2007.
18 Gerry Mulligan from an interview with Gordon Jack, Jazz Journal International. 19 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 20 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, July 2007.
21 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
22 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
23 Jack Montrose, interview with author October 2005.
24 Dick Bock, liner notes to Mosaic Records MR5-102.
25 Bob Whitlock, excerpt from an interview by Gordon Jack.
26 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 27 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
28 Chet Baker from As Though I Had Wings.
29 Buddy Collette from Jazz Generations: A Life in American Music and Society. 30 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
31 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 32 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 33 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
34 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
35 Dick Bock, liner notes to Mosaic Records MR5-102.
36 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
37 Gerry Mulligan from Jeru: In the Words of Gerry Mulligan, Library of Congress. 38 Gerry Mulligan, excerpt of an interview with Gordon Jack.
39 Bob Whitlock, excerpt of an interview with Gordon Jack.
40 Ralph Gleason from DownBeat, October 22nd 1952.
41 Bob Whitlock, excerpt of an interview with Gordon Jack.
42 Bill Holman, interview with author, June 2007.
43 Bob Whitlock, excerpt of an interview with Gordon Jack.
44 Bob Whitlock, ibid.
45 Chet Baker, interview with Brian Case, Melody Maker, April 14th 1979
46 DownBeat magazine, January 14th 1953
47 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
48 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005.
49 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, July 2007.
50 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, July 2007.
51 Excerpt from ‘The Hollywood Beat’, DownBeat magazine, May 20th 1953.
52 Jack Montrose, interview with author October 2005.
53 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005
54 Chico Hamilton, excerpt from Fifties Jazz Talk, by Gordon Jack.
55 Chet Baker from As Though I Had Wings.
56 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
57 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
58 Excerpt from DownBeat, April 8th 1953.
59 Joyce Tucker, interview with author, July 2006.
60 Joyce Tucker, interview with author, July 2006.
61 Joyce Tucker, interview with author, July 2006.
62 Gerry Mulligan, liner notes to Mosaic Records MR5-102.
63 Chico Hamilton, excerpt from Fifties Jazz Talk, by Gordon Jack.
64 Excerpt from DownBeat, October 7th 1953.
65 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005.
66 Excerpt from Time magazine, February 2nd 1953
67 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005.
68 Excerpt from DownBeat, April 8th 1953.
69 Excerpt from DownBeat, April 8th 1953.
70 Bob Brookmeyer, interview by Alyn Shipton, Jazzwise magazine, May 2007.
71 Excerpt from DownBeat, January 1989.
72 Bill Crow, from Jazz Heroes by John Fordham.
73 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005.
74 Chet Baker from As Though I Had Wings.
75 Herb Geller, interview with author, October 2005.
76 John O’Grady from O’Grady: The Life & Times of Hollywood’s No. 1 Private Eye. 77 Chet Baker from As Though I Had Wings.
78 Excerpt from Los Angeles Mirror, April 14th 1953.
79 Chet Baker from As Though I Had Wings.
80 Joyce Tucker, interview with author, July 2006.
81 Joyce Tucker, ibid.
82 Bill Loughborough, interview with author, April 2006.
83 Walter Norris, interview with author, October 2005.
84 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
85 Bob Brookmeyer, interview with Alyn Shipton, Jazzwise magazine, May 2007. 86 Bob Whitlock, interview with author, June 2007.
87 Nat Hentoff, excerpt from DownBeat magazine, September 1953.
88 Chet Baker, excerpt from As Though I Had Wings.
89 Chet Baker, interview with Jeroen Reece, Jazz Hot, November 1983.
90 Bob Whitlock, excerpt from an interview by Gordon Jack.