Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mulligan Memories

I have been listening to a recently re-released Gerry Mulligan CD called "The Jazz Soundtracks". It features Mulligan - along with several other excellent jazz musicians - playing the original soundtrack to two movies : I Want To Live (1958) where the music was composed by Johnny Mandel, and The Subterraneans (1959) with compositions by Andre Previn. However you classify this kind of jazz - cool jazz, west coast jazz, post-bop or whatever -it has always been my favourite style. And Mulligan has always been one of my favourite players.
I once heard him play. It was at Sheffield City Hall and it was back in the early 1980s. It was just before my deafness descended and it must have been the last concert I ever heard before those years of silence. By then Mulligan was old and that spark which lit up his early work had diminished (but not been totally extinguished). I saw the Sheffield gig advertised but couldn't find anyone to go with: none of my friends were into jazz. So I went by myself, sat up in the Gods and let the music work its magic on what was left of my natural hearing. It was a glorious experience, one I remembered during the years of deafness that followed.
Mulligan died before I received my cochlear implant and my ability to listen to music was returned to me. But I can listen to his music now and remember just what scientific research, the National Health Service and a collection of skilled and dedicated doctors and technicians have done for me.


  1. Mulligan was great, & it's great you had a chance to hear him. Deafness must be an awful trial; glad for you that there was a remedy.

  2. I'm interested in what you did hear while deaf. Was it absolute, total silence - or could you pick up vibrations?

  3. Having lost your hearing and having it back again must be an extra special blessing! I'm sure you appreciate it much more than most people. I would guess music would be one of the biggest things missed!

  4. John : Yes, deafness was a trial but it has to be said that there are worse disabilities.
    Bill : It was never silence - mostly constant loud noises (tinnitus). At times the ability to feel vibration was your one link to the "outside"
    Betsy : Yes music was at the top of my list of things I missed, followed - interestingly enough - by gossip.

  5. I used to be a sign language interpreter for the deaf. Did you get along without having to learn sign language? Music and especially gossip would be a terrible loss!

  6. I guess we can remember Sound ? But (ithink) It cant be recalled in the way of ,say,visual memories??? Thats been my experience anyway........Say! what was the first record you listened too when your hearing returned? [And was it as you remembered it?]


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