For some time now, I have been saddened by the seeming disappearance of the "true" musical avant-garde. Yes, there have been some promising new releases from young composers eager to experiment; Rebecca Saunders, Jason Eckardt, and some of Matthias Pintscher's work come to mind, though it's difficult to tell whether these efforts will be sustained. Luciano Berio is dead.
During the last few years of his life, John Cage wrote many pieces in the same general vein as Five3. They are often referred to as "the number pieces." This references the titles of the pieces, which are all simply the number of the performers. Superscripts are added as necessary to distinguish the individual pieces (this is the third quintet, for example).
These works are also called "the time-bracket pieces," a reference to the notation of the pieces.
Three years after Gerry Mulligan initially sat in with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the baritone saxophonist arrived at a point where he could perform alongside Brubeck's alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond, for this much anticipated session. When legal issues, wranglings with producer Norman Granz, and the question of which record label would subsidize and release this album were resolved, the two saxophonists went ahead to produce a delightful program of standards and originals where their more playful sides could fully blossom. The wonderful interaction between Mulligan's burly but agile horn and the ultimate smooth - but in this case animated and energized - sax of Desmond is more than just magical, and makes for a fluid, jaunty, delicious combination sure to please even the most jaded or stone-eared music listener…
The last of the pianoless quartet albums that Gerry Mulligan recorded in the 1950s is one of the best, featuring the complementary trumpet of Art Farmer, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey along with the baritonist/leader. This recording is a little skimpy on playing time but makes every moment count. Virtually every selection is memorable, with "What Is There to Say," "Just in Time," "Festive Minor," "My Funny Valentine," and "Utter Chaos" being the high points. Highly recommended both to Mulligan collectors and to jazz listeners who are just discovering the great baritonist.