Lonesome Boulevard

West Coast jazz, the cool sound that wafted east from California in the early ’50s, may be in for a revival. The signs are apparent in the posthumous fuss over Chet Baker, who played trumpet in Gerry Mulligan’s quartet; in the Harry Connick Jr. madness; and in the general longing for melodies you can hum. The cool school faded after a few years as it lost spontaneity, but Mulligan — who is most closely identified with the West Coast movement — never really fit the pigeonhole. Even when the temperature dipped below zero, he retained his passion and individuality. On his triumphant new quartet record, Lonesome Boulevard, he offers nine new pieces, a mixture of sauntering swingers and pretty ballads, and his uniquely dulcet yet invigorating baritone sax is so songful you may fail to hear where written melody ends and improvisation starts. The writing is exceptionally polished, notably on the loping ”Lonesome Boulevard,” the wistfully swinging ”Rico Apollo,” a light-stepping homage to Thelonious Monk called ”Good Neighbor Thelonious,” and a high-powered train song, ”The Flying Scotsman.” The fastidious interplay of the quartet (baritone, piano, bass, drums) results in a sound that is unexpectedly spacious, even luxurious. A-

Lonesome Boulevard
  • Music