Jeru was a favor that Gerry Mulligan did for his drummer, Dave Bailey, who owned a startup label called Jazzline. Mulligan was bet-ween recording contracts. The ensemble played together only once, during the four-and-a-half-hour session when Jeru was made in 1962. It features Tommy Flanagan on piano, Ben Tucker on bass, Bailey on drums and Alec Dorsey on congas. The album never appeared on Jazzline because CBS bought the master and released it on Columbia.
It was Mulligan’s first-ever experience of recording with a piano without the presence of other soloists. Not for a moment would you suspect that he is in uncharted waters. Jeru flawlessly swings with a relaxed, throbbing, positive life force. Mulligan’s guttural gliding and Flanagan’s pristine comping are almost too perfect for jazz. “Here I’ll Stay” and “You’ve Come Home” could roll and tumble forever. The concluding “Lonely Town” begins in poignant whispers but can’t resist the pull of sprightly double time.
The recorded sound, achieved by an unidentified engineer at Nola Penthouse Studio in New York City, has remarkable presence and three-dimensionality. Jeru is one of the quickest 30 minutes in jazz.