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Gerry Mulligan

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Queens, NY

Gerald Joseph “Gerry” Mulligan (April 6, 1927 – January 20, 1996) from Queens, NY was an American jazz baritone saxophonist, composer and arranger.

Mulligan started on the piano before learning clarinet and the various saxophones. His initial reputation was as an arranger. In 1944 he wrote charts for Johnny Warrington’s radio band and soon was making contributions to the books of Tommy Tucker and George Paxton. He moved to New York in 1946 and joined Gene Krupa’s Orchestra as a staff arranger; his most notable chart was “Disc Jockey Jump.” The rare times he played with Krupa’s band was on alto and the same situation existed when he was with Claude Thornhill in 1948.

Gerry Mulligan’s first notable recorded work on baritone was with Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool nonet (1948-50) but once again his arrangements (“Godchild,” “Darn That Dream” and three of his originals “Jeru,” “Rocker” and “Venus de Milo”) were more significant than his short solos. Mulligan spent much of 1949 writing for Elliot Lawrence’s orchestra and playing anonymously in the saxophone section. It was not until 1951 that he began to get a bit of attention for his work on baritone. Mulligan recorded with his own nonet for Prestige, displaying an already recognizable sound. After he traveled to Los Angeles, he wrote some arrangements for Stan Kenton (including “Youngblood,” “Swing House” and “Walking Shoes”), worked at the Lighthouse and then gained a regular Monday night engagement at the Haig.

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