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Gerry Mulligan: Midas Touch: Live in Berlin

Baritonist Gerry Mulligan’s Midas Touch (Concord) documents yet another European concert by an essential American saxophonist no longer with us. Recorded live in Berlin in 1995, just a few months before Mulligan’s death in early 1996, this previously unreleased collection of seven Mulligan tunes performed by a superb, well-rehearsed quartet (plus a duet with Dave Brubeck on the standard “These Foolish Things”) shows the saxophonist at his most sensitive, as on the moving “Wallflower” and at his most visceral, as on the high-flying “Sun on the Stairs” and the obligatory “Walkin’ Shoes.” Mulligan’s smooth, distinctive tone, his lyrical expressiveness, his joyous swing and his composer’s ability to create logical, coherently constructed choruses are all fully on display. And the excellence of his rhythm section-pianist Ted Rosenthal, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ron Vincent-helped assure a top-notch product, Rosenthal’s prodigious technique and imaginative improvisations being particularly noteworthy. The final duet with Brubeck, which starts out as a ballad before the pianist switches to a sprightly double-time stride accompaniment, is a charming bonus.

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