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Gerry Mulligan Recording Added to National Recording Registry

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Yesterday the Library of Congress announced the 2014 selections for the National Recording Registry. The list of hit recordings being added includes a wide-ranging playlist of music from the last hundred years. From “Stand by Me” to Radiohead’s “OK Computer,” the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board selected a compelling array of twenty-five recordings that capture a snapshot of the diversity in American musical tastes. The special collections of the Library’s Music Division are well-represented by the artists and songs included in this year’s recording registry inductees. To learn more about Cole Porter, whose original cast recording of Kiss Me, Kate is included on the 2014 list, you can explore our Cole Porter collection. From manuscript scores to original lyric sheets and lyric sketches, the Porter collection offers an opportunity to see how Porter’s creative mind worked.


The Library’s Gerry Mulligan collection is represented by “My Funny Valentine,” which Mulligan’s quartet and Chet Baker recorded in 1953. Originally a song in Richard Rodgers’ and Lorenz Hart’s musical Babes in Arms (1937), “My Funny Valentine” has been recorded by many top tier artists like Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis. The Mulligan Quartet/Chet Baker recording is the only version of the song included in the National Recording Registry. The instrumental charts and sketches for their recorded version of “My Funny Valentine” may be studied in the Mulligan collection (Boxes 12, 114, 115). If you happen to visit the Library’s Performing Arts Reading Room you will be greeted by a special display that includes Mulligan’s baritone saxophone and his 1981 GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Recording (for Walk on Water).

Portrait of Gerry Mulligan, ca. 1980s by William P. Gottlieb (Gottlieb Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress)
Portrait of Gerry Mulligan, ca. 1980s by William P. Gottlieb (Gottlieb Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress)
Gerry Mulligan Collection Display, Library of Congress (Music Division Photo)
Gerry Mulligan Collection Display, Library of Congress (Music Division Photo)

National Recording Registry Citation
“My Funny Valentine” (single)
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker (1953)

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet’s studio recording of “My Funny Valentine” had been a hit for the piano-less group in the autumn of 1952, so it was an established part of the quartet’s repertoire when producer Dick Bock recorded this live performance on May 20, 1953 at The Haig jazz club in Hollywood, California.  At over five minutes, nearly twice as long as the single, trumpeter Chet Baker and baritone saxophonist Mulligan had room to stretch out.  The result is a darker, more expressive version of “My Funny Valentine,” propelled by a Carson Smith bass line that is simple, but insistent and almost ominous.  After a short roll by drummer Larry Bunker, Baker’s solo is melancholy and direct, followed by Mulligan’s more playful chorus. When Baker rejoins Mulligan, the playing intensifies, punctuated by Baker’s plaintive wail.  No occasional clinking of glasses on the live recording can diminish the power of this West Coast cool jazz classic.  The popularity of the 1952 studio version may have helped to keep this performance in the vault until the 1960s.  For many, however, this extended version has become the definitive Mulligan and Baker collaboration.

National Recording Registry Press Release

Gerry Mulligan Collection Summary
Gerry Mulligan (1927-1996) was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. The collection chiefly consists of scores, sketches, lead sheets, and instrumental parts for original compositions by Mulligan as well as for works by other composers. In many instances, there are multiple versions of Mulligan’s best-known works. These music materials include manuscripts, holograph manuscripts, printed items, and reproductions. In addition, the collection includes a small amount of photographs, awards, clippings, programs, realia, song lists for different concerts or projects, and other miscellaneous materials.

Gerry Mulligan Collection Digital Presentation

Gerry Mulligan Collection Finding Aid

The Gerry Mulligan Collection Featured in the Library of Congress Information Bulletin (June 1999)

Mulligan was previously featured on “In the Muse” for a “Pic of the Week” post in June 2011

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