Tag Archives: Gerry Mulligan

The Olson Pingrey Quartet at Rutman’s

December 10th, 2009

On the D.L. “by” Randy Pingrey

Tygart Valley by Kathy Olson

Stone Age Rhumba by Randy Pingrey (more info)

Blues for Mac by Kathy Olson

Reverie by Kathy Olson

My Waltz by Kathy Olson

Low Contrast by Randy Pingrey (more info)

Venus de Milo by Gerry Mulligan, arranged by Randy Pingrey

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Austin McMahon – drums

What a great evening!  Kathy and I can’t thank Mark and Austin enough for being so shockingly perfect for our music, and it was wonderful to see so many people at the gig.

And special thanks goes to Rutman’s Violins for having us play…

…and an extra special thanks goes to Joel and Laura for being totally awesome.

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Low Contrast

brookmeyer and mulligan

Here are two choice tracks which were recorded on August 21st at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, MA.  I might put up a few more tracks in the next several days, as I have time.  Download the track by clicking on the name, or listen to it via the streaming flash player.

Low Contrast by Randy Pingrey

Check out the score here. (pdf file)

Venus De Milo by Gerry Mulligan (arranged by Randy Pingrey)

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Austin McMahon – drums

I’m particularly excited about the track Low Contrast.  I wrote it for this group, and my idea was: what if Morton Feldman wrote a tune for the Mulligan/Brookmeyer band?  I’m quite pleased with the results, and it’s a thing I’m definitely going to pursue in future projects.

Enjoy!

Kathy Olson Quartet

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A Short History of Trombone and Saxophone

So I have this gig coming up with my killin’ bari-sax-playing sweetie, Kathy Olson, which was partially inspired by the legendary Gerry Mulligan/Bob Brookmeyer quartet.  And it got me thinking about the history of great trombone-saxophone pairings throughout jazz.

Let me first say that playing with a saxophone player poses unique aesthetic questions to the trombone player, and it’s something that I’ve had to think a lot about in the past few years.  Think about it this way: imagine you are the trombonist Dickey Wells, in Count Basie’s big band in the 1930’s.  Herschal Evans and Lester Young are dueling every night, re-inventing the jazz vocabulary on the band stand right before your eyes.  When it’s time for the trombone solo after choruses of brilliant saxophonics what can you play that won’t be instantly forgettable?  What can you play that will convince an audience that you have something valuable to add to the conversation?  It’s a musical mindbender that persists to this day – when I’m on a jazz gig, and there is a tenor saxist who shreds right before my solo, I think to myself as I step up to the mic: “whelp, here’s old Dickey Wells standing up to take his little solo”.  Dickey Wells’ victory is that he managed to find his own vocabulary amid all the saxophone posturing, and he was able to play solos that weren’t instantly forgettable.

So there’s the rub.  How can saxophonists and trombonists ever get along?  Well, fortunately there are a couple of examples in the history that lead the way.  The ones that pop out immediately to my mind (one for each voice in the saxophone family):

Curtis Fuller & Benny Golson
Bob Brookmeyer & Gerry Mulligan
Roswell Rudd & Steve Lacy
George Lewis & Anthony Braxton*

Each pair dealt with the issues in their own ways: Curtis Fuller played it cool against Benny Golson’s heat.  Brookmeyer and Mulligan shared vocabulary and a similar sensibility about timbre, and they embraced counterpoint.  Lacy’s clever terseness matched well with Rudd’s humorous generosity.  And Braxton and Lewis were such monsters that they could make anything work.

Anyways, that is what’s been on my mind recently.  It’s a pleasure to work with Kathy on it, and you should check out the gig we are playing at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, MA on August 21st at 10 PM.  I will, as always, put recordings on this site as soon as they’re available.

 

*And there are also a few pairs in newer music.  Like:

Wolter Weirbos & Frank Gratkowski
Nils Wogram & Hayden Chisholm

Can you come up with any other examples?  I’m having trouble thinking of current long-standing pairs in more conventional genres, but I’m sure that they’re around.

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