Gerry Mulligan was a great jazz pioneer and an innovator of the bari sax. He has become a role model for many bari sax players, and West Coaster Jennifer Hall is no exception. Jennifer Hall meets . . . is a tribute to Mulligan. The quintet, which is made up from mixing and matching West Coast regulars, plays his music with their own personal touch. This album is an exceptional showcase of the musical accomplishments that Mulligan achieved during his life.
After listening to Hall's playing for just a short while, one can tell that Mulligan has been a strong musical influence in Hall's life. They play similarly but Hall's sound is a little brighter than Mulligan's. Hall's rhythm section of Josh Nelson on piano, Santo Savino on drums, and Dave Stone on bass set a solid foundation for the group which allows Hall and her sidemen to freely improvise. Nelson fills in holes with little melodic lines, which gives the music a nice touch. Savino on drums keeps a steady swing feel which is supported by grooving bass lines produced by Stone.
Hall's sideman take turns playing with her and the rhythm section. Trombonist Scott Whitfield plays only on two tracks, although both of his solos are burning. He exhibits extraordinary technique on the slide and displays versatility in the upper register. Roger Neumann takes on a bari battle with Hall on "Cat Walk" and the opening track "Five Brothers." Both trumpeter Carl Saunders and soprano saxophonist Tom Kubis showcase their mastery of their respective instruments, which provides a nice contrast to the low register playing of Hall's baritone sax.
The west coast musicians on Jennifer Hall Meets . . . make an admirable tribute to the legacy of Gerry Mulligan.