This research originally appeared in the Dutch discography journal, Names & Numbers, No. 82, July 2017, in slightly different form and content.
The January 23, 1958, issue of Down Beat published a notice in the opening “strictly ad lib” New York column that summarized a series of recording sessions that took place in December, 1957, for Dick Bock’s World Pacific label.
The reunion of the Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan quartet took place over three days, December 3rd, 11th, and 17th. December 4th and 5th included sessions for an album featuring Gerry Mulligan compositions arranged for an expanded saxophone section. Another session on December 5th featured Mulligan with the Vinnie Burke String Quartet. Bob Zieff conducted a sextet session on December 9th showcasing his compositions with Chet Baker. The Mulligan/Baker quartet was scheduled for December 11th and 17th backing vocalist Annie Ross, and the Bob Brookmeyer session was booked for December 13th and 16th. A frenetic schedule to end the year for Bock and World Pacific.
Edited selections from some of these sessions were featured in a disc jockey sampler LP that World Pacific released in the fall of 1958. A Taste of the Best from World Pacific, DJ-2, provides a rare glimpse into the machinations behind a record release.
Side two of the sampler included selections from these December New York sessions. The planned release numbers reveal changes that took place as albums were cancelled or delayed in release. The Annie Ross/Gerry Mulligan album noted as WP-1255 was released in 1959 as WP-1253. The Gerry Mulligan/Vinnie Burke album was cancelled and the noted release number, WP-1252, was assigned to a Mastersounds album, The Flower Drum Song. WP-1255 was assigned to a spoken word album, Gerald Heard – Reflections. The planned Harry Edison album, Tasty Sweets, WP-1254, was cancelled and the number reassigned to a folk anthology, A Night at the Ash Groove.
Side one of DJ-2 reveals another interruption in Dick Bock’s schedule of planned releases. “In A Mellowtone” from the Chico Hamilton Quintet album, Ellington Suite, was assigned WP-1249. This version of the quintet featured Eric Dolphy on reeds. The entire session was rejected by Dick Bock and did not progress beyond the test pressing stage. WP-1249 was assigned to a Chet Baker anthology, Pretty Groovy. The original Ellington Suite test pressing was discovered by a collector in 2000 at a used record shop in Brighton, England. The session was released in CD format in later that year.
Woody Woodward usually threw away test pressings from Research Craft after they had been reviewed and approved as the final checkpoint in the release of an album. My friend, Bill Emery, discovered this during a visit to Los Angeles in the mid fifties. Bill met Woody Woodward in 1951 when they both worked for Ray Avery at his Record Round-Up store on La Cienega. The Woodwards were living in Studio City on a street where they had to place their trash cans in front of the property for collection. Bill was staying with Dotty and Woody and noticed that one trash can had several white jacket LPs to be thrown away. Bill asked Woody about it and said that he would value receiving them if they were to be discarded. Over the next several years Bill would regularly receive a carton from Woody containing discarded World Pacific test pressings.
Woody’s notation on test pressings was minimal, but the date he inscribed was always the date that he received the test pressing from Research Craft.
The Gerry Mulligan Songbook Volume 1, PJ-1237, from the three New York sessions reached the final test pressing stage at the end of January 1958. Woody’s notation on the test pressing was spare, PJ ST 720, MULLIGAN SAXES, 1-29-58, and PJ ST 721 on the flip side. The Brookmeyer/Hall/Raney album, The Street Swingers, PJ-1239, enjoyed a similar swift path to LP release. Woody’s notation was equally brief, PJ ST 728, Brookmeyer-Hall-Raney, 2-12-58, and PJ ST 729 on side two. The above details are courtesy of Bill Emery from test pressings that Woody had given to Bill.
The reunion of Gerry Mulligan’s pianoless quartet with Chet Baker required three recording sessions as noted above. Dick Bock assembled an album that met his standards and the assigned matrix numbers followed those assigned to the Brookmeyer Street Swingers LP, PJ ST 730/731.
Reviews of the album were lukewarm. The chemistry between Gerry and Chet that distinguished their first albums for Pacific Jazz was absent. Those albums benefited from countless nights of working together on the stage at The Haig. Nine hours in Coastal Studios in New York failed to achieve the same results.
The Chet Baker session devoted to the compositions of Bob Zieff produced four oeuvre, not enough to fill an LP release. One of the compositions, Twenties Late, was licensed to Playboy Enterprises where it appeared on a Playboy LP release, PB1959A. The other three compositions remained unissued until Michael Cuscuna assembled a Chet Baker anthology entitled Chet Baker – The Pacific Jazz Years that included all four works.
The December 9, 1957, date has been credited for a Chet Baker session with David “Buck” Wheat and Russ Savakus. This mainly vocal session remained unissued for years until it was released on CD in 1995 as Embraceable You.
These vocals were most likely recorded in Los Angeles at Phil Turetsky’s bungalow at 1470 North Kings Road in Hollywood over three days in October of 1956 with Jimmy Bond on bass and David “Buck“ Wheat on guitar.
When Bill visited the Woodwards in August of 1960 Woody showed Bill some test pressings that he had not been able to part with as they were from unreleased or rejected sessions. Dick Bock assigned matrix numbers in numerical sequence as masters were sent to Research Craft. One of the test pressings had matrix numbers that fell between the sets mentioned above for the Mulligan and Brookmeyer albums, 720/721 and 728/729. Matrix numbers 724/725 were assigned to the first master of the Annie Ross and Mulligan album. Woody’s notation on the white label showed a date of 1-29-58, the same date as the Mulligan songbook. Woody had noted the tunes in detail and shared these with Bill. The tunes highlighted in yellow feature Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Henry Grimes, and Dave Bailey. The tunes highlighted in light blue are without Chet Baker. Annie Ross told James Gavin in an interview that Chet Baker midway through the session “went to the loo and never came back.”
Woody had a second rejected test pressing for the Annie Ross and Gerry Mulligan album, matrices 732/733, dated 2-25-58. This second rejected master included four tunes that have never been released. Woody did not share details about the originals that were most likely brought to the session by Annie Ross who had success with two of her other original lyrics, “Twisted” and “Farmer’s Market.”
Dick Bock was finally able to assemble an Annie Ross/Gerry Mulligan album after arranging another recording session in New York with Art Farmer replacing Chet Baker and Bill Crow replacing Henry Grimes. When Michael Cuscuna produced the CD reissue of the Ross and Mulligan collaboration he dated the Mulligan/Farmer session as having taken place in September of 1958. The final release master with matrices 782/783 included five tunes from the Mulligan/Farmer session. Highlight in light pink.
The Gerry Mulligan session with the Vinnie Burke String Quartet test pressing was dated 3-7-58. In addition to reaching the final text pressing stage, the album had also advanced to final album cover design. Alan Bates was associated with World Pacific at this time and retained the cover art mock-up which he loaned to Michael Cuscuna when the Mosaic Select set was issued that included this unreleased session. Woody’s notation for the test pressing included song titles and order for each side of the LP release.
The Mastersounds never achieved the artistic recognition they deserved during their tenure with World Pacific. The decision to focus on Broadway show tunes: The King and I, Kismet, and Flower Drum Song; plus an album devoted to holiday songs from different countries can be blamed for fostering a perception that they were a lightweight group. Their straight ahead hard driving albums, Jazz Showcase, Play Horace Silver, and Ballads and Blues did not provide sufficient counter weight to alter this image. Woody had a test pressing dated 3-7-58 that never advanced to an LP release. Albums by The Mastersounds have appeared on European labels that take advantage of the copyright laws, but a bonafide U.S. release would be welcomed by fans.
Woody shared another unreleased test pressing with Bill that featured Bob Cooper as leader from his latest tour with Joe Napoli’s Jazz West Coast promotion. The album was to be titled The Travelling Mr. Cooper.
Woody also mentioned some planned sessions including one with organist Luis Rivera and Bud Shank that that never saw the light of day. The cover art for the Mulligan/Burke album was recycled for a Paul Horn album.
All of the Gerry Mulligan New York sessions discussed above are included in Mosaic Select No. 21. A bonus is included in the Mulligan/Burke sessions, a ninth tune that did not make it to the selection process for the intended LP release.