The Gerry Mulligan Quartet continued their engagement at The Haig in January of 1953. Bob Whitlock departed the quartet before Christmas and was replaced by Carson Smith, a logical choice by Mulligan as Smith had demonstrated his chops during the initial engagement at the Black Hawk in September of 1952. The quartet’s version of “My Funny Valentine” had received generous airplay by Los Angeles DJs. Carson Smith suggested the then relatively unknown tune from from the Rodgers and Hart musical, Babes in Arms. Chico Hamilton also took leave of the quartet to tour with Lena Horne at a more substantial salary. Hamilton was present at the January 6, 1953, recording session for Fantasy to add more tunes to fill out a 10” LP release of the quartet. The log from local AFM shows Mulligan as leader for Circle Records, four men, three hours, four sides. January 6th was a Tuesday, the off night at The Haig.
The photo below was probably taken in the early part of January with Carson Smith having replaced Bob Whitlock on bass, and Chico Hamilton still with the quartet before leaving to tour with Lena Horne.
The Friday, January 23, 1953, edition of the Mirror/News advertised two guest jazz artists that would be performing with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet the following week. Lee Konitz (Stan Kenton man) joined the quartet on the following Monday evening, January 26th, and on Tuesday, the 27th, Art Pepper (former Stan Kenton man) played with the quartet.
Dick Bock was impressed with the Konitz/Mulligan combination and persuaded Lee Konitz to record for Pacific Jazz as leader (a rare concession on Mulligan’s part, leaders received double scale at recording sessions) the following Sunday, February 1, 1953, at Gold Star Recorders. Mulligan, Konitz, and Baker were joined by Carson Smith and Chico Hamilton’s replacement, Larry Bunker. Unfortunately there is no evidence or record that Art Pepper actually played with the Mulligan quartet on the 27th. The photo of Art Pepper playing with Gerry Mulligan, featured in the first post to this series, was taken in the spring of 1952 when Mulligan was in charge of the off night jam sessions. Perhaps the chemistry between Pepper and Mulligan was negative?
Dick Bock rushed the Konitz/Mulligan quintet sides into production for release as 78 rpm singles prior to their release as one half of a 10″ LP, and later an extended play 45 rpm.
When Gerry Mulligan’s quartet became the featured attraction at The Haig in December of 1952 the responsibility for arranging off night entertainment fell back on Dick Bock. In January of 1953 Bock was invited to hear an ensemble at the Westlake College of Music. The group was under the nominal leadership of Dave Madden and included Jack Montrose, Bob Gordon, Johnny McComb, Forrest Westbrook, Wayne Harris, and Buddy Merriam.
The group had formerly been part of a dance band organized by Marv Pearson, an aerospace engineer by day and guitarist by night who booked a series of gigs for the band at the Pedrini Ballroom in Monterey Park in 1951. The band used a book by Lennie Niehaus and members of the band were Lennie Niehaus, alto sax; Dave Madden and Jack Montrose, tenor saxes; Bob Gordon, baritone sax; Johnny McComb, trumpet; Forrest Westbrook, piano; Marv Pearson, guitar; Wayne Harris, bass; and Sid Williamson, drums. After that gig folded Niehaus joined the Kenton band and some members of the band decided to keep together as a smaller combo with two tenors, baritone, trumpet plus rhythm section.
The Lennie Niehaus book was unsuited for the smaller group and a new library was created by Jack Montrose, Forrest Westbrook, and David Robertson. The new band rehearsed at the Westlake College of Music in Hollywood one night a week with regulars Madden, Montrose, Gordon, McComb and Westbrook. The band kept their rehearsal schedule through 1952 and recorded several of the numbers in their new book at Universal Recorders.
Dick Bock was impressed with the ensemble playing and the charts by Madden, Montrose, and Westbrook. He asked the group to perform at The Haig on the off night beginning on Tuesday, February 10, 1953. Bob Gordon was unable to make Tuesday nights and Bud Shank subbed for Gordon on baritone. The Madden/Montrose ensemble was well received and played three additional off night sessions on February 17th, 24th, and March 3, 1953. Bock also had the ensemble with Bob Gordon come by The Haig on a Saturday afternoon where he taped the group for possible release on Pacific Jazz. The rehearsal tape passed through several hands and was lost, but Bock kept in touch with Jack Montrose. The arrangements that Jack Montrose wrote for Pacific Jazz sessions with Chet Baker in December of 1953 and Clifford Brown in the summer of 1954 had their genesis in the Westlake College rehearsal ensemble.
Ads in the Mirror/News in February and March continued to promote the Gerry Mulligan Quartet as the featured attraction at The Haig.
The next off night guest jazz artist to be named in an ad in the Mirror/News was the Herb Geller Quartet. The ad from March 27, 1953, states “Tuesday Only” but it was several Tuesday off nights as noted on this 78 rpm acetate.
Dick Bock recorded the Geller quartet at Universal Recorders for possible consideration of release on Pacific Jazz. The quartet featured Herb Geller on alto saxophone, Lorraine Geller on piano, Lawrence Marable on drums, and Clarence Jones on bass.
Dick Bock recorded Lorraine Geller with just rhythm backing playing Lorraine’s original composition that she titled “Lorraine’s Tune.” Dick Bock did not follow through with a release of the Gellers on Pacific Jazz.
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet made their first concert appearance on March 30, 1953, at Gene Norman’s “Duke Ellington Festival” at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Gene Norman arranged Gerry Mulligan’s first recording session when Mulligan first arrived in Los Angeles. Bob Whitlock recalled in an interview conducted by Gordon Jack (Fifties Jazz Talk, The Scarecrow Press, 2004) that he was contacted by Gail Madden to play bass for the session that included two musicians from Albuquerque that had accompanied Mulligan and Madden to Los Angeles. The session was aborted, nothing worthwhile resulted.
Gene Norman kept in touch with Mulligan and proposed a recording session for Gerry’s rehearsal ensemble. The music from two sessions on January 29 and 31, 1953, was licensed to Capitol and issued on a 10″ LP later in 1953.
Bob Willoughby attended the recording sessions at the old Capitol Records Recording Studios on Melrose and took several photos of Mulligan and the ensemble.
The Haig’s star attraction made unfortunate headlines in the Los Angeles Times in mid April of 1953.
“Saxophonist Gerald J. Mulligan, 26, and his trumpet player, Chesney H. Baker, 23, hit a blue note in their musical careers yesterday. The two were arrested, along with their wives, on narcotics charges. Det. Sgts. John O’Grady and Dick Hill of the Los Angeles police narcotics detail and State Narcotics Officer Matt O’Connor said they had been keeping the two musicians under surveillance for several days because of a tip that the pair had been using narcotics. The officers reported that late Monday night [April 13th] they went to the home at 1515 North Harvard Place where both couples live and found a quantity of heroin and a hypodermic injection kit hidden on the back porch. O’Grady said Mrs. Jeffie Mulligan, 21, answered their knock and admitted them to the home, and that in an immediate search of the premises they found a jar of marijuana. The latter find, they added, was made in the bathroom, where Baker’s wife Charlaine, 22, was taking a shower. The officers said they then went to The Haig, a nightclub at 638 South Kenmore where Mulligan and Baker were appearing with a jazz quartet. They arrested the two men as they stepped from the stage following their final performance of the night. They said Mulligan had 12 hypodermic marks on his arms and admitted the heroin found on the porch was his. He denied, however, as did Baker, any knowledge of the jar of marijuana found in the bathroom of their home. The officers said Mulligan admitted he used heroin, but only occasionally. They said he admitted that he had been “hooked” on heroin at one time, but then he quickly added that he had “kicked the habit” about three years ago. “Then about six months before I went to work at the Haig,” the officers quoted Mulligan as having said, “I had a run of bad luck . . . was out of work . . . and started to use it again occasionally to relax. “But when I do use it I get it when somebody gives it to me. I never buy the stuff.” In addition to being an accomplished baritone saxophonist, Mulligan also is known as a composer and arranger and two months ago was the object of an article in a nationally circulated magazine. Police said that Mrs. Mulligan, a bride of only three months, told them she was not involved in the use of narcotics and that she had never been aware that there were any narcotics around her home. Baker, according to police, is at present out on bail from a previous charge of possession of marijuana.”
Carson Smith recounted the event in his interview with Gordon Jack.
“I remember arriving at the Haig one night to find that Gerry had eloped to Palm Springs with one of the waitresses, called Jeffie Lee Boyd. She was a friend of Dick Bock’s, and I had tried to date her a few times, but I guess I wasn’t her style. The marriage lasted for about a month before they had an annulment, and I could never figure it out, although I’ve heard several stories. We didn’t know that Gerry was messing around with drugs, and one rumor was that he had gone down to Palm Springs to dry out and Jeffie was there to help. I don’t know if I believe that or not, but it could be true, because it sure was a strange marriage! She was still working at the Haig when Gerry got busted, and shortly afterwards Arlyne Brown arrived on the scene from New York. She was the daughter of the great Lew Brown of the DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson song writing team, and she and Gerry had known each other for years. It seemed that within a matter of days Arlyne had taken over and become Gerry’s manager, with the intention of showing him the way to a new life. She was a real New Yorker and, man, was she strong that woman!
One night, two plainclothes detectives named Hill and O’Grady came into the Haig and sat down right in front of the bandstand for two whole sets. Chet pulled me aside and told me they were cops and Hollywood was their beat. Their great fame came from going around busting celebrities like Robert Mitchum and Lenny Bruce and, let me add, they were a couple of assholes. If the club hadn’t been full, they would have arrested us there and then, but they waited until a quarter to two, when it was time to close the joint up. They herded us into the office and looked up our sleeves, checking for needle marks. I was bewildered, because I didn’t know what they were talking about, but after checking Chet, Larry, and me, Gerry just broke down, saying, “I’ve been screwing around with drugs again,” just like that. He didn’t have to say a word, but he was like a beaten man. He took the cops to the house that he and Chet were renting in East Hollywood near Sunset Boulevard and Western, showed them his paraphernalia, and went off to jail in handcuffs. I know now that he was desperate to get away from the drug scene and that was the only way he knew how to do it.
Gerry’s lawyer kept the case bouncing around from court to court for a couple of months while we carried on playing at the Haig. By this time he and Arlyne were renting a tiny house in the Hollywood Hills. The night before his final court appearance, when-he fully expected to get the case kicked out for good, we all went up to Gerry’s place for a little party to cheer him on. The next day the judge gave him six months at the Sheriff’s Honour Farm, and that was the end of the first Gerry Mulligan Quartet.
The Honour Farm was in Saugus, which is about thirty miles out of L.A. on the road to San Francisco, and I was Arlyne’s ride when she visited Gerry. He would arrange for me to see one of the other prisoners, usually a musician, while he and Arlyne spent their hour together. We all expected Gerry to reform the quartet when he was released, and in the meantime, Chet and I got to play with Charlie Parker for a while. We also did some things on our own with Russ Freeman and Bob Neel, because Dick Bock was preparing Chet to become a bandleader, although Chet didn’t want to be a leader. We were keeping fairly busy, not busy-busy, but hanging in there and paying the rent. We were both astonished to find that, on the day Gerry was released, Arlyne picked him up and took him right to the airport. Somebody said his final remark was, “Good-bye, Los Angeles, you will never see me again.”
Nat Hentoff interviewed Gerry Mulligan for a series of profiles for The New Yorker magazine. Gerry’s account differs slightly.
At the time of his arrest, the Mulligans were sharing a small apartment with Chet Baker and his wife. Baker had got into the newspapers previously over troubles with marijuana, and one evening, while the men were playing at the Haig, the police raided the apartment and found some marijuana cigarettes thatbelonged to him. When he and Mulligan got home, they were stripped and searched. Marks on Mulligan’s arms indicated that he had been taking heroin, hut no heroin was found in the apartment. Mulligan had buried a supply of the drug out in the yard, and now, dispirited and believing that he might be sent to the federal hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, for a cure, he voluntarily dug it up, and, since it looked as if the case against him could not be worse, took the blame for the marijuana, too. When Mulligan and Baker came up for a hearing in April, the judge observed, with deep disapproval, that Mulligan was the least credible witness he had ever seen in court (“At that time,” Jeffie Boyd says, you could push Gerry in any direction, except musically. In every other way, he was like a lost ship.”) At all events, Baker was released unconditionally and Mulligan was released on bail until September. The California legislature was in the process of passing a law that would permit probation for narcotics offenders, and Mulligan, with his lawyers‘ encouragement, continued playing at the Haig, certain that, at worst, he would he put on probation for a year or two. Meanwhile, his marriage to Jeffie Boyd ended in an annulment, and in June, 1953, he married Arlyne Brown, the girl he had known in New York. She had been following his career closely, and upon hearing the news of his arrest she had taken a plane to the coast, arriving at dawn. Mulligan had met her at the airport, and the two had talked non-stop all through the night.
In September, Mulligan appeared in court again and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation. Through the efforts of his wife, has lawyers, and a former Los Angeles policeman named Joe Crunk, who was trying to start a Narcotics Anonymous group in Los Angeles, he was released, on probation, after three and a half months in jail. Those months, however, were the most grinding experience of his life. He has described them as follows:
“First, I went into isolation for a week, because I’d been arrested as an addict and had been out on bail. I was only mildly addicted when I went in, and while I was sick the first week in jail, that was due more to isolation than the effects of withdrawal. The cops, though, interpreted my being sick as the result of having had to kick the drug, which indicates how astute they were as observers of narcotics patients. After a couplke of weeks, I was sent to the honor farm – it’s only a name – in Saugus, California, about thirty miles out of Los Angeles on the road to San Francisco. I began in the minimum-security compound, and the first week I went out with work crews. There was a great arid piece of land loaded with rocks that we had to clear out. I did an awful job. One of the guards, however, was a jazz fan, and he and the captain soon descended on me to write music for shows the inmates would put on at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Suddenly, therefore, within a week – completely without precedent – I was made housemother, a position of respectability in the barracks. You had to keep the place clean. Prisoners didn’t usually attain this high social status until they’d been there quite a while. I’d get through my duties and go over to the recreation hall to work on music. I wrote a couple of arrangements for the prison band, and reheared it a couple of times a week.
“Another guard looked dimly on my getting preferential treatment. He was waiting for me to slip. I was late one morning getting to breakfast on the early shift, to which the housemothers were assigned. That guard told me to go back and eat with the regular shift. I mumbled something not especially friendly, and he marched me down to the sergeant’s office. I was transferred to maximum security.
“For nineteen or twenty days, I went through the inferno. It was a fantastic experience. I’d been working on music and was in a highly charged state of mind, and also I’d been having a fair amount of freedom. Now I was stuck in a cell about four feet wide and six feet long with two other guys. There were two bunks, and one of us had to sleep on the floor. We had one partial meal in the morning, another in the evening, and nothing at midday. No mail, no visitors, nothing to read, and anytime the guard came, we had to jump up and stand at attention. We went to the showers once a week and spent the rest of the time in the cell, which contained the two bunks, a john, and a sink.
“The first couple of days, I flipped periodically, banging my head against the wall. Then I finally fell into a how-long-can-it-go-on desperation. It was sheer torture. There was nothing I could do. I was absolutely helpless. In time I just got numb. One guard did dig I was really flipping, and tried to get the captaian in charge of ‘care and treatment’ to give me some privileges, but they were afraid to show me any additional preferences, since the first time hadn’t worked out. I was surprised through all this that, with all the hostility I felt, I couldn’t blame the guards. That was the way the system was. They were doing their career work, and didn’t really know the effects of the system they were part of or that the job was a outlet for the sadistic side of their temperaments.
“I finally found out that the way the brand of torture that was being applied to me works is that if you can come to stand it, your time is less. Mine was finally diminished, though, evidently through the intercession of Gene Norman, a Los Angeles disc jockey, concert promoter, and record-company owner who apparently was a friend of the sheriff. Gene Norman and Joe Crunk, who was later to get to talk to the judge and explain the background of my case, had been the only people allowed to see me. Norman came in with a proposition. He wanted to feature me in a concert, and had obtained permission for me to be taken to the concert by guards and returned to jail immediately afterward. I turned the offer down. It was more than I could face. I guess he interceded for me anyway, because I was soon released from maximum security. I put the experience out of my mind as quickly as I could, but in some ways I expect I’ll never recover from those nineteen or twenty days.
“I had about two weeks more of road gangs – policing the area and picking up rocks – an then I went to see the judge again. When he let out, I was stunned. I couldn’t really believe it. I still had just over two and a half years of probation, and that ended in 1956. My probation was to Joe Crunk, in addition to the regular authorities. I was allowed to leave California, though I had to mail in a report once a month. You usually have to stay in the environment that helped cause your addiction. It’s illuminating – or should be – that the first thing many guys want to do when they get out of jail on a narcotics sentence is to get back on narcotics. It’s an ineffectual but deeply hostile gesture of protest against the stupidity that put them in jail to begin with.
“I haven’t used heroin now for a long time, and I don’t intend to. It’s a terribly dangerous drug. But I’m still very much concerned with the laws and and with the police approach to narcotics. I believe, as Joe Crunk and many psychiatrists do, that a man whose only crime is addiction belongs in a hospital, not a jail. And I strongly believe that we need a system whereby an addict, as in Brtiain, can obtain treatment during gradual withdrawal under supervision of a doctor. In this country, getting the drug from illegal sources results in your not knowing what you’re getting, and besides, in contacting those sources you’re thrown into being a criminal, and that creates a lousy mewntal state. Our laws and police don’t distinguish between the addict who does commit like holdups to get the stuff, or who pushes it, and the addict who is a medical problem only and cannot be helped by being jailed.”
Mulligan was set free on Christmas Eve, 1953. He had intended to continue leading his old quartet, but he almost immediately got into a financial squabble with Chet Baker, and decided to form a new group and start from scratch. “By this time, I wanted to have as little as possible to do with California and Californians,” he recalls, “so I got on the phone to New York and recruited some musicians.” As a result, the valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and the drummer Frank Isola, and the bass player Bill Anthony took a plane to Los Angeles, and a week after Mulligan’s release the unit made its first appearance at the Embassy Theater there. The place was jammed, and the audience responded to the music with such sustained enthusiasm that after the concert Mulligan felt he was ready to try the road. First, the quartet went up to San Francisco for a short engagement, and then it moved to Philadelphia.
Gerry Mulligan was featured in an exchange regarding customer noise in the May 20 and June 3, 1953, issues of Down Beat.
The Haig audiences as noted by Dave Brubeck in part one of this series were accustomed to socializing and enjoying conversations with friends while dining and drinking. This was particularly true in the 1940s when the tables were larger and spaced out to allow servers to wait on customers. The ambience was that of a cocktail lounge/piano bar where the music was provided as a background. Customers were encouraged to socialize, and the pianist was expected to engage the audience as well, take requests.
John Bennett made some changes when he acquired The Haig. Small “cocktail” tables were introduced. The emphasis was on selling drinks and dinner service was sidelined. The photo of the Laurindo Almeida/Bud Shank Quartet, shown below, illustrates the tight spacing between tables and how the audience in the row of tables next to the bandstand were a few feet away from the musicians.
Gene Norman arranged for another recording session of Gerry’s quartet on May 7, 1953. There is no record in the AFM files to confirm that a contract was drawn up for this session or for the January sessions that Norman licensed to Capitol Records.
Dick Bock arranged for another recording session of Gerry’s quartet with Lee Konitz at Gold Star Recording Studio on June 10, 1953, from 1:00 to 7:00 PM. Quartet members Chet Baker, Carson Smith, and Larry Bunker rounded out the quintet, this time with Gerry as leader. The additional sides captured were sufficient to fill out a 12″ LP. Joe Mondragon is credited as being on bass on some selections, the contracts do not support this.
Several musicians sat in with Chet Baker to fill out the quartet when Gerry Mulligan was not present. Herb Geller recalled a three week stint while Gerry was away with his new bride, Jeffie. Stan Getz sat in during June and was recorded by Dick Bock. The Chet Baker / Stan Getz recordings have been issued on several CDs over the years. The second set of photos on the Fresh Sound Records CD feature photos of Baker and Getz taken at Zardi’s, easily recognizable with the rafia woven backdrop in the photos. Here is a sampling:
The off night in May found Oscar Pettiford and Harry Babasin playing amplified cellos with Alvin Stoller, Arnold Ross, and Joe Comfort. Dick Bock was persuaded to record the quintet and set up a session at Gold Star Recording Studios on May 14, 1953. The session masters were sold to Imperial Records where it was released as a 45 EP. The Geller recordings might have followed the same path as Herb Geller’s first record as leader was also on Imperial.
Harry “Sweets” Edison and Oscar Pettiford were also paired for the off night session in June with the same rhythm backing, Alvin Stoller, Joe Comfort, and Arnold Ross.
Dick Bock was persuaded again to record, but without Pettiford’s cello. The session took place at The Haig on July 1, 1953, from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM. The resulting album, “Sweets at The Haig” was the fourth 10″ LP in the Pacific Jazz catalogue.
Other off night combos at The Haig included Teddy Charles on vibes, Gene Gammage on drums, Howard Roberts on guitar, and Curtis Counce on bass. Charles had recently relocated to California as A&R for Prestige Records.
Shorty Rogers and his combo, The Giants, opened at The Haig in September as noted in the notice in Down Beat. The off night entertainment was also drawing attention to The Haig, a combo with Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank performing a Brazilian influenced meld of samba rhythms and jazz.
The Almeida/Shank quartet began their off night sessions in August. As noted in the Down Beat notice above, the new off night was now a Monday night. The quartet played August 17; September 14, 21, 28; October 5, 12, and 19, 1953. The extended gig affirmed the groups popularity with patrons.
The table in front of Laurindo Almeida was used as a music stand for his copies of the charts for the group. This photo illustrates the close quarters of the club and the intimacy of audience and musician. The mirrors behind the group allowed patrons to have multiple views of the musicians and provided an enlarged (and false) perception of the size of the room. The quartet recorded for Pacific Jazz the following month at Sound Stage Recording Studios. The 10″ LP featuring Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank was the seventh release in the 10″ LP Pacific Jazz catalogue.
Shorty Rogers and His Giants continued to be the headline attraction at The Haig for the balance of 1953.
The photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of Cynthia Sesso and the Roy Harte Jazz Archive. The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Roy Harte Jazz Archive. Please note that these photos remain the property of the Roy Harte Jazz Archive and are used here with permission. Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to: Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.