For many people, the 1952-1957 incarnation of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet that featured trumpeter Chet Baker alongside Mulligan's baritone sax is the group that defines not only Mulligan's career, but almost the entirety of West Coast "cool" jazz (barring, perhaps, the equally seismic partnership of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond). The 1991 anthology THE BEST OF THE GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET WITH CHET BAKER is an admirably concise 15-track distillation of the five-year partnership between the two. Although Mulligan would go on to a varied (and rarely less than fascinating) career that lasted for decades, many fans of the mercurial Baker agree that the trumpeter never played better than he did with Mulligan on classic sides like "Soft Shoe." The set also includes versions of "Jeru" and "Darn That Dream," songs better associated with Mulligan's earlier work with Miles Davis on the BIRTH OF THE COOL sessions, and a live instrumental version of "My Funny Valentine," which would later go on to become Baker's signature vocal tune.
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