Album: The Mulligan Chronicles
Artist: David Larsen
Label: David Larsen Productions
Twentieth century saxophonist-composer-clarinet player Gerry Mulligan led a long and prolific livelihood as a professional musician. His passing in 1996 was followed by a legacy that continues to live on through 21st century musicians like saxophonist-composer David Larsen. Larsen’s latest offering The Mulligan Chronicles is tailored to capture the breadth of Mulligan’s catalog and his jazz-imbued styles, having written for Big Bands, jazz combos, film scores, and symphonies. Joined by Dave Glenn on trombone, Bill Mays on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, and Ron Vincent on drums, Larsen stays true to Mulligan’s language and phrasing.
The familiar motifs of “Festive Minor” are sewn with diligence as Larsen and his bandmates tightly string along graceful steps that form an elegant dance. Johnson’s plucking on the bass strings are layered in the sleek swishing of Larsen’s saxophone and the heavier-toned register of Glenn’s trombone. “Good Neighbor Thelonious,” Mulligan’s tribute to Thelonious Monk, demonstrates Larsen’s melodic sensibilities and tactful timing with the musicians. Bill Mays’s piano keys sparkle on the track, trickling with a nimbleness that lures the listener’s attention.
The laggard swagger of Larsen’s saxophone alternating with Glenn’s trombone along “Lonesome Boulevard” emote a lingering that sets the listener off into whimsical thoughts. Kicking up the tempo to a swinging shuffle, “Idol Gossip” displays Larsen’s versatility moving from the meditative mood of “Lonesome Boulevard” to the festive atmosphere of “Idol Gossip.” The sprightly beats of Mays’s keys in “Rico Apollo” are embellished by the quick flapping of the horns moving in tandem as Ron Vincent’s drums burst and plume in the backdrop, adding dimension to the track. Transitioning to the downy strokes of Larsen’s saxophone languidly strewn along “Etude for Franca,” the recording is groomed to a lulling throttle.
The Mulligan Chronicles from David Larsen is the culmination of years of study into the compositions of Gerry Mulligan. Integrating the language and phrasing of Mulligan with his own musical parlance, Larsen’s songwriting attributes come through at the frontline. His instincts for contributing to the collective dialogue with comments that add and build to the conversation with his bandmates make the recording original and endearing.
David Larsen – Baritone Saxophone
Dave Glenn – Trombone
Bill Mays – Piano
Dean Johnson – Bass
Ron Vincent – Drums