Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan

Baritone Sax icon Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax

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January 20, 1996 (Age 68) died

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April 6, 1927 Birthday

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New York, New York, U.S. Birthplace

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Gerry Mulligan was a versatile jazz musician and one of the most important bari sax players in the history of jazz. Mulligan began his career as an arranger, eventually moving to New York City in 1946 to work for Gene Krupa's band. He became involved in the cool jazz movement providing arrangements and playing baritone sax with Miles Davis' on Birth of the Cool. He also did arrangements for Claude Thornhill. Mulligan moved to Los Angeles in 1951 and formed his "pianoless quintet" with trumpeter Chet Baker, which led to the tow becoming stars of the West Coast Jazz movement. After the quintet broke up in 1953, Mulligan collaborated with a range of musicians, including Bob Brookmeyer, Thelonious Monk, Paul Desmond, Stan Getz, and Ben Webster. In 1960, he formed his Concert Jazz Band, which toured and recorded extensively through 1964. Mulligan continued to work intermittently in small group settings throughout his lifetime and recorded extensively as a leader and sideman. Gerry Mulligan passed away in 1996 at the age of 68 following complications from knee surgery, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most influential and innovative musicians in the history of jazz.


Gerry Mulligan won DownBeat Magazine's reader's poll for Outstanding Baritone Saxophonist for 42 consecutive years (1953 - 1995). Gerry Mulligan was interested in trains and his 1971 album "Age of Steam" was inspired by them. Gerry Mulligan was indicted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991.

Early Life

Gerry Mulligan was born in 1927 in New York. His family moved around a lot, spending time in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois before finally settling in Philadelphia when Mulligan was a teenager. Mulligan began studying the piano at age 7 before moving on to the clarinet and various saxophones. As a young teen he made attempts at arranging music and was encouraged by his teachers. At age 16 he sold several of his arrangements to Johnny Warrington, the director of the WCAU-CBS radio orchestra and soon after he dropped out of school to pursue music full time. Mulligan was soon hired as an arranger for Tommy Tucker's touring band before eventually settling in New York where he found work as an arranger for Gene Krupa's Orchestra and occasionally played alto saxophone with the band.