USC Plus presents the first genre in the history of USC, and this collection is in the genre of Berlin School. 32 songs and more than 5 hours of music from composers from around the world.
Out of the 13 selections included on this double CD, six were originally released just in Europe, two ("Out of Nowhere" and "Mexican Jumping Bean") were never out before and only five songs were on the American LP. Considering how inspired the Dave Brubeck Quartet sounds, it is surprising that the music has been so obscure for so long. Baritonist Gerry Mulligan is particularly heated on the opening two numbers (the unreleased tracks), pianist Dave Brubeck really stretches himself (check him out on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" where he progresses from stride to free), and bassist Jack Six and drummer Alan Dawson, in addition to their solo space, are quite alert and constantly pushing the lead voices. Not only are the musicians in top form but the audience is very enthusiastic, demanding three encores. The extensive liner notes by Geoffrey Smith are also a major plus. Highly recommended.
A little less than eight years after it occurred, Concord Records issued this concert, originally broadcast on German radio, from Gerry Mulligan's last European tour, performed less than a year before his death. Mulligan appears with his regular band of the time – pianist Ted Rosenthal, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Ron Vincent – playing a group of originals that serve as springboards for his lyrical style of baritone saxophone playing. The group, which had been together for several years at this point, plays smoothly, offering excellent support to the leader. A special treat is the final track, a version of "These Foolish Things" on which Mulligan duets with guest star Dave Brubeck. The album demonstrates that, in his maturity, Mulligan continued to live up to the standards he had set for himself across a career stretching back 45 years. There are no real revelations this late in the game, but Mulligan and the band play with the assurance of veterans.
The slaying of Abel by his brother Cain was one of the favourite subjects of the 18th century Italians, at the time when the oratorio was having a phenomenal success in Rome and Venice. It was most probably in one of the palaces of the “Serenissima”, and not a church, that Scarlatti first performed this astonishing “sacred entertainment”, worthy of a “verismo” opera, in 1707… God and Lucifer confront each other in the very soul of Cain, his brother’s voice is heard from heaven, and the “spatial” treatment of the tonal levels all contribute to the effectiveness of what is almost expressionistic music – there is nothing left out of this incredible Baroque Biblical “thriller”!