by Tom Haugen
The Mulligan Chronicles
A saxophonist, composer and educator, David Larsen pays homage to Gerry Mulligan here, where pieces spanning his entire catalog are illuminated by Larsen and esteemed musicians who actually worked with Mulligan.
“Walkin’ Shoes” starts the listen with a bright and vibrant appeal as Larsen’s sax shines alongside graceful keys from Bill Mays and frisky drumming thanks to Ron Vincent, and “Curtains” continues the strong song craft with plenty of spirited and cautious interplay that allows Dave Glenn’s trombone prowess a spotlight.
The middle tracks offer us the flowing melodies of the warm “Lonesome Boulevard”, while “Idol Gossip” picks up the pace with a lively energy that’s got plenty of rhythm amid the sax acrobatics. “The Flying Scotsman”, a late album highlight, then benefits greatly from Dean Johnson’s agile bass lines as all the players have their respective talents on display.
Deeper still, the lush and intimate “Etude For Franca” proves that the ensemble excel in calmer areas with much emotion, and “Taurus Moon” exits the listen on a swift and dynamic finish of calculated and beaming jazz that we could never tire of.
An excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with either Larsen or Mulligan, the inclusion of veteran musicians who played with Mulligan gives this tribute an authentic touch, and Larsen’s reimagining certainly proves that he’s got the chops in area of modern jazz sounds.