Friday, January 31, 2014

Channeling jazz counterpoint - a la Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan

Greg Nielsen and Tom Ellison
Multi-instrumentalist Greg Nielsen and saxophonist Tom Ellison dug deeply into the Gerry Mulligan songbook Friday in a South County Jazz Club concert that focused primarily on the baritone saxophonist's classic collaborations with trumpeter Chet Baker and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer.

This excellent concert teamed the pair with bassist Don Mopsick and drummer Dave Pruyn in this piano-less band. Pruyn also sang one tune and played trumpet or flugelhorn on a couple more.  The concert drew a record crowd to the jazz club's Venice Art Center matinee series, estimated at more than 140. Others were turned away after the room reached capacity. A half-dozen more soaked up the sound from the center's adjacent cafĂ©.

Don Mopsick, Dave Pruyn, Greg Nielsen, Tom Ellison
They explored early 1950s collaborations between Baker and Mulligan, as well as Mulligan and Brookmeyer. Highlights: their takes on "Bark for Barksdale," "Love in New Orleans," "Moonlight in Vermont," "Bernie's Tune" and Line for Lyons." The latter pair were wonderful celebration's of Mulligan's wonderful counterpoint approach to arranging tunes.

Taking on the Mulligan and Brookmeyer roles, Nielsen shifted with ease between trombone, flugelhorn and trumpet depending on which material they were doing.

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