According to his official website, multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Mulidore has spent much of his career in Las Vegas. He worked in combos with Red Norvo and Carl Fontana before becoming musical director for both the Hilton and Flamingo hotels. He conducted for the likes of Louis Armstrong, Gladys Knight and Olivia Newton-John, and played on albums by Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. But for all his work these pop icons, jazz has seemed to be his enduring passion. And when he steps out in front of a jazz combo, as he does on his newly released CD Jazz For the Ages, it is easy to see why.
Whether playing tenor, alto, or soprano sax, the clarinet or the flute (he plays them all on this album), Mulidore is a virtuoso. The disc’s 15 tracks have him working with a varied cast of musicians recorded in a variety of places—some live, some in studio. The music includes a collection of jazz standards and some original Mulidore compositions. All in all it makes for some very exciting listening.
The album opens with John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” the first of five Coltrane pieces. But if you would have expected to hear Trane’s music played on the sax, Mulidore has a surprise for you. Not only does he play “Giant Steps,” but he plays three more of the Coltrane songs—”Satellite,” “It’s You Or No One,” and “Countdown”—on the clarinet, and an absolutely stunning version of “A Love Supreme” on the bass clarinet. On this last, he is joined by Ron Feuer on piano, Richie Cole on alto sax and Randy Brecker on trumpet. The other four are recorded with a quartet featuring Dave Ring on piano, Arnold Jacks on bass, and drummer Santo Savino.
Album highlights include an extended live jam on Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance,” where Mulidore plays soprano sax along with the tenor of Eric Alexander. The nearly 13 minute cut not only features some fine solo work from the saxes, it also has a lengthy drum solo from Savino. There is a funky blues take on “Willow Weep For Me” with Mulidore on the alto, and a swinging live performance of Sonny Rollins’ “Doxie.” Mulidore and Cole both play alto on this last. Anita Lea does a hauntingly sweet vocal on “A Time For Love,” which has Mulidore playing a flute opening right out of The Impressionists.
Indeed when you hear him work with the flute on his own compositions “Nigalian” and “Muldoon’s Mood,” you have to wonder why the instrument isn’t heard more often in jazz combos. “Muldoon’s Mood” particularly is an elegant melody rich with possibilities. He plays tenor on the uptempo “Muldoon’s Journey” and alto on “For Moody’s Sake,” two more originals. Billy Tragesser plays keyboards on all these originals and adds a little vocal embellishment on all but the last. Tragesser is also represented as a composer with “Interstate 15.” Mulidore plays soprano sax on this track and again on “Rowena.”
Those of you unfamiliar with Mulidore’s work will find Jazz For the Ages a happy introduction. Not only does it show the man’s versatility and technical craft, it is alive with inventive fertility. He has surrounded himself with a crew of musicians who speak the same musical language. Together they swing with the best.