Gerry Mulligan / April 6, 1927 - Jan 20, 1996

Gerry Mulligan may be the most well-known (and perhaps most important) baritone saxophonist in jazz and beyond. His playing, arranging and compositional talents have found him work with many of the greatest jazz artists ever, as well as extensive work in orchestral settings.

He started arranging for Gene Krupa in '46 before playing on the classic Miles Davis Nonet sides that became Birth Of The Cool and subsequent jobs with the group ('48-'51). 1951 saw the issue of his first album Mulligan Plays Mulligan before heading to Los Angeles to take a job with Stan Kenton.

It was there that he teamed with the not-yet-famous Chet Baker, achieving great acclaim until heroin took the band apart and Mulligan found himself in the slammer for awhile. Upon release he re-formed the group with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer replacing Baker.

He worked with both Thelonious Monk and Paul Desmond in the late '50s and in the early '60s he formed a big band, touring and recording for Verve and from '67-'73 was in regular partnership with Dave Brubeck. The mid-'70s found him working in Italy, including with tango master Astor Piazzolla. He worked often with Mingus in the '70s before re-forming the big band. He even experimented with electronics in the early '80s. He had also been working with classical orchestras for decades.

In demand for a variety of settings his entire career, he also notably performed and/or recorded with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Mel Torme and many, many others. He also recorded on a variety of reed instruments, as well as piano, but stands with Harry Carney among the greats of the bari.

Here is the Birth of the Cool sessions, of which Mulligan is a major part of, as baritone player, composer and arranger:

Here's Mulligan in partnership with Chet Baker, back when Baker was a fine trumpeter and not an obnoxiously overrated junkie singer:

And Mulligan Meets Monk:

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