Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
Recently I spent a lot of time reconsidering the career of Gerry Mulligan. At the end I was filled with even more admiration for his contribution to our music. Gerry was much more than a baritone sax player; he was a composer, a bandleader, an arranger and above all a great lover of melody. But if you were to ask me who was the greatest soloist on the baritone sax, I would probably have to consider 2 or 3 other players. One of them would be Serge Chaloff, whom I recommend this month.
Heard first with the Boyd Raeburn Band and Woody Herman in the 1940s, he adapted the Be-bop style of Charlie Parker to the larger saxophone with great success. During his short life, – he died of spinal cancer aged 34, – he concentrated on developing his imagination as a soloist.
This album, recorded in the last year of his life, includes some of his finest work. He is backed by a superb trio: Sonny Clark on Piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and the great Philly Joe Jones on drums. All four are at their very best. Thanks for the Memory has been nominated by some critics as one of the finest recordings of the 1950s.
[In 2004 Blue Serge was reissued by Definitive records on DRCD 11261]