Bob Whitlock (1931-2015)
Von "Bob" Whitlock, a West Coast jazz bassist and the last surviving original member of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet who joined the influential piano-less group in the summer of 1952, died on June 29 in Long Beach, Calif., of a stroke. He was 84. [Bob Whitlock picture above, bottom center, on cover of album rotated on its side]
Without a piano in the Mulligan quartet, Bob had to work doubly hard to create not only the metronome-like time-keeping tempo but also play piano-like treble runs when gaps in the music needed fills. In fact, Bob was not only responsible for introducing Chet Baker to Mulligan but also wooing him back to the quartet after Mulligan blasted Baker for his loud warm-up exercises and Baker walked out. [Pictured above, Bob Whitlock in Paris in the early 1960s as a Fulbright Scholar]
In 2012, thanks to numerous coaxing efforts by Bob's friend and writer Leslie Westbrook (above), who provided ideal times to call Bob, I was able to interview him at length by phone. At first, Bob struck me as withdrawn (an American Wikipedia page still does not exist for him), but once we began talking, he had plenty to say and didn't hold back on answers.
Here is my combined four-part interview with Bob originally posted in August 2012…
[Pictured above, clockwise from the top: Chet Baker, Bob Whitlock, Gerry Mulligan and Chico Hamilton in 1953; cover photo by Dave Pell]
JazzWax: Where did you grow up?
Bob Whitlock: I was born in Roosevelt, Utah, on January 21, 1931.
JW: Did you have a good time as a kid?
BW: Yeah, I guess so. I was an only child and felt like the Lone Ranger. I had a bunch of relatives but they were a bit clannish.
JW: What do you mean?
BW: If you weren’t immediate family—brothers—you didn’t rate. Cousins were too distant. It was kind of lonely and weird up in Utah. When I was 12 years old, we moved to Long Beach, Calif., just after Pearl Harbor. My grandmother on my mother’s side had died and left my granddad in a twist. My mother had just gotten her second divorce, so she felt like she was in prison in Utah.
JW: So your grandfather lived in Long Beach?
BW: Yes. When we moved down there, I didn’t like it at first. I wasn’t comfortable with the strangeness of it compared to the jerkwater town we had left. But we were near the beach, and I liked that. The sunsets were great. When we had lived in Roosevelt, Utah, the whole town was 1,400 people, including the surrounding farms. Roosevelt was in the middle of an Indian reservation.
JW: But you wanted to move, yes?
BW: I did. I had always had these wild dreams about what it would be like to live in a city. Salt Lake was about as big as it got out there. The dreams I had was that the city was a highly sexed place and that teens would bond and do all the things teens did. But when we moved to Long Beach, the kids weren’t like that at all. It wasn’t that different from Utah, just a lot more people.
JW: How were you first exposed to music?
BW: One of my older cousins was a very versatile guy. He played tenor sax, the baritone and the bass. He had had this little band back in Utah. My mother had played alto sax in the band, and played well for a gal in a hick town. Guy Lombardo was her favorite.
JW: Your cousin’s favorite, too?
BW: [Laughs] No. I remember getting into heated arguments with him. He had records by Basie and Ellington, but I wasn’t listening carefully yet and simply defended my mother’s taste. I had been playing the piano at this point. By the time we moved to California, I had gotten pretty fair on the keyboard. I was playing the organ in church.
JW: Did you continue on the keyboard in California?
BW: No. There was nothing to play. In Long Beach, I began a love affair with the trumpet. I idolized Harry James, Ziggy Elman and the other horn stars. Then I discovered Roy Eldridge. He was brilliant. He could play from the bottom of the horn clear up to the top.
JW: Did you imagine yourself a trumpet player?
BW: Oh yes. I kept hounding my mother to buy me one. But I hadn’t even played a trumpet yet, and times were tough then. My mother was a single parent. She worked at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach as a secretary. She was earning 60 cents an hour.
JW: Ever get that horn?
BW: I did. My mother was a wonderful gal and she bought me a cornet. I was into it and got into the orchestra at school. But I had no idea what I was doing. I’d just mash the mouthpiece into my upper lip until it was numb. By the time I got some useful help with a couple of teachers—one taught me a non-pressure method—I couldn’t do anything with the trumpet. I had blown out my lip.
JW: What did you do?
BW: I went to a couple of different teachers to try to unwind the damage, but nothing worked. I’d also been dropping in on the guy who owned the music store where my mother had bought the cornet. One day I came in and saw a bass sitting there. He knew I was having a difficult time with the horn. We talked, and he felt sorry for my mom laying out the money and the horn not working out.
JW: What did he do?
BW: He saw that I had an interest in the bass so he offered to trade me the bass or a piano for the cornet. I took the bass. It was portable and looked cool.
JW: How did you learn to play?
BW: There was a brilliant guy named Nick Furjanick who had been a violinist in the orchestra at Woodrow Wilson High School [above]. He was injured in World War II, which limited his career. He gave me lessons. He was brilliant and for years won the state’s highest honors in music. He was a wonderful person. If he saw anything at all in a person, he would go all out for them. He saw that I had potential on the bass.
JW: What was your first paying gig?
BW: At the Cinderella Ballroom in Long Beach [above]. It was a big band. I had the opportunity to play because I could read charts. I had become a solid reader in the high school orchestra.
JW: Is Von a nickname or your given name?
BW: Von is my real name. My mother had planned to name me by combining my dad’s name and her name. My mom’s name was Eva LaVaur Mullins while my dad’s name was Lynn Whitlock. So she was going to name me Varlynn until someone told her it was an odd name. Someone suggested a name like Von instead. But Von was a bit strange, too, and most people heard “Bob” when I was introduced, so I began to call myself Bob.
JW: How did you wind up gigging steadily with Gerry Mulligan in Los Angeles in early 1952?
BW: I got a call one day from a woman who I thought was a manager or agent. She said she had gotten my name from someone and asked if I was interested in coming to a rehearsal with Gerry Mulligan. [Photo above, from left: Bob Whitlock, Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan]
JW: What did you think?
BW: I was delighted. I couldn’t believe my luck. So I jumped on the opportunity in a hot minute. Gerry had somehow got hooked-up at a place where he could rehearse in the San Fernando Valley—a little Italian restaurant with sawdust on the floor.
JW: Did you already know Mulligan personally?
BW: No, I had never played with him or met him. But I knew his music and records. When I came in and set up, the first thing Gerry said to me was, “Let’s play some blues.” That was a relief. But then he said, “Go ahead and kick it off, give me four bars.” I flipped, but I took off and played a four-bar intro.
JW: How did you do?
BW: I kind of surprised myself that the line came out as good as it did. I was kind of scared. Hell, it was Gerry Mulligan. This guy had been on the Miles Davis Nonet recordings [later known as The Birth of the Cool], the best jazz sides in some time. I was scared and inspired. [Photo above: The Miles Davis Nonet]
JW: Were you responsible for introducing Chet Baker to Gerry Mulligan?
BW: Yes. After I started playing with Gerry regularly, we had a record date on Vine. We had been playing with these two guys who Gerry had met in Albuquerque, when he hitchhiked across the country with his girlfriend [Gail Madden]. They had put up Gerry and Gail, so Gerry and Gail had asked them to come to L.A. One guy played drums and sax and the other played trumpet. But they weren’t cutting it. We recorded all evening on Vine but there was nothing we could use at the end of the night. [Photo above: Gerry Mulligan]
JW: How did you know Baker?
BW: I had been rooming with him for a couple of years. When I mentioned to Gerry at the session that Chet would be perfect for us, Gerry told me to bring him by. Back at our place, I told Chet. He was delighted and beside himself. He and I used to just sit and listen to the Miles Davis Nonet stuff. Chet couldn’t get over it. [Photo above: Chet Baker]
JW: What was the next step?
BW: Chet and I went to a rehearsal Gerry held. But Chet had this really disturbing habit. When he’d warm up, he’d do it quickly and loud. He’d blast out these pedal tones and high notes. It was like he was putting his lip through a challenge. It wasn’t easy to listen to.
JW: What was Mulligan’s reaction?
BW: Gerry went off on him. He said, “Don’t ever do that around me.” Chet was insulted, naturally, and he was an independent little dude [laughs]. Chet said, “Go fuck yourself” and packed up his horn and walked out. Right after that, Bird [Charlie Parker] came out to L.A., and Chet went to work with him at the Tiffany Club on 8th near Normandy. Bird took to Chet right away. Soon they got booked in San Francisco, and Chet played around with him for a couple of months.
JW: What was the result?
BW: Playing with Bird did Chet’s reputation a world of good. Bird kept raving about him. Soon, Gerry felt like a jerk about what he had done, especially after he had heard what Chet was capable of playing on the instrument. In all fairness, there was no way for Gerry to know about Chet’s abilities at a rehearsal where Chet was blasting his horn and exercising his lip.
JW: How did Mulligan and Baker get back together?
BW: After Chet split and was playing with Bird, I would say some delicate lightweight, apologizing things to Gerry, noting that the rift was just a misunderstanding. I said, “That’s just the way Chet warms up.” Gerry asked me to have Chet come to the next rehearsal.
JW: What happened?
BW: When Chet showed up, two minutes in it was obvious that we had a fantastic combination. We were building things, and they played like one mind working two horns. Funny enough Chet continued to do that warm-up thing and Gerry ate it [laughs].
JW: Who was Phil Turetsky?
BW: Phil was a recording engineer who was connected to Dick Bock, who handled publicity at the Haig. Phil had a little studio at his house up in Laurel Canyon, northwest of Los Angeles. He would record whoever had some promise. In 1952, Dick Bock approached him about doing some recording for a label he wanted to start called Pacific Jazz. [Photo above, clockwise from top: Phil Turetsky, Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida]
JW: Do you remember recording there with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Chico Hamilton in August 1952?
BW: Yes. I had been working at the Haig on the off-nights for two or three months before the quartet was formed. I wasn’t the only one. There were other bass players and drummers in the group. Gerry was trying different people to see who would fit his concept. After I became a regular, he chose Chico.
JW: Everything worked out?
BW: Yes. Gerry liked my playing. The next thing we did was this little recording session at Phil Turetsky’s. At the time I formally joined Gerry, I had been working with Art Pepper. Art played at the Haig for a while with his group. Then Gerry and Art started playing together. Gerry was still using the piano. I think Gil Barrios was playing it.
JW: What happened to the piano at the Haig?
BW: The piano was a huge grand. Erroll Garner had been the featured soloist there. The piano was so long that the front extended into the room and had to sit on a crate. It took up a ton of space. So Gerry had it taken out. Gerry never gave me a direct answer as to why he stopped using a piano in the group, but I know he felt the piano was a pain in the ass, musically.
JW: A pain in the ass?
BW: Everyone always had to conform to what the piano was playing and Gerry didn’t want to do that. The piano was a naturally dominant instrument because of its rhythm function and multiple notes. The ear had to hear it. I think Gerry was tired of having to follow it. The piano made the music too complicated, and the other musicians weren’t free enough to invent lines.
JW: How did Mulligan develop the quartet sound?
BW: On Mondays at the Haig. It was Dick Bock’s [pictured] idea to get us taped and produced. I felt very comfortable with that group. I liked the challenge of playing a bass line that really defined the harmony without sounding like you’re just running chord changes. The challenge was to keep our lines simple enough to swing.
JW: A challenge?
BW: At first, for me. It’s easy to get caught up trying to make your lines too cute. When that happens, the bass loses the reason why it’s there. Meeting that challenge was the reason for going to work every night. I felt like I had utter freedom and I never abused that. I was totally exposed as a player. Sometimes that was difficult.
BW: It would get humid and warm in the Haig, and just trying to keep the four of us in tune with each other was tough. It’s not easy to play when you’re constantly trying to adjust the bass’s tuning pegs at the same time. It’s a hell of an experience. But it didn’t take very long for the whole thing we were doing to become accepted.
JW: Wasn’t the quartet always accepted?
BW: Not really. For a time, people ridiculed it. They came in and thought we should have someone defining the harmony, like a guitar or piano. The tradeoff for us was the experimental freedom. Instead of having to chase the piano player all night, we could intermingle without that stress or interference.
JW: That was a radical concept?
BW: It was at the time. The piano was key in many groups. But you could often get a piano player who thought he was hotter than everyone else and could ruin everything in a hurry. Without the piano, we could pay attention to each other.
JW: The absence of a piano in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet let Chet Baker stand out, yes?
BW: That’s true. You know, Chet was 10 times the soloist that Gerry was. Gerry had done so much writing and arranging by then that he had developed a lot of formulas for soloing. Chet was different. With Chet, it was always a free-fall. He could read music but he wasn’t a great reader. Instead, he had very highly developed taste and an appreciation for simplicity. From a musician's perspective, he was always more exciting to listen to because you never knew where his lines were going to go. [Photo above of pianist Forrest Westbrook and bassist Bob Whitlock courtesy of Leslie Westbrook]
JW: Spoken like a true Chet Baker fan.
BW: I guess I am one of Chet’s biggest fans. Listening to what came out of that horn each night and the challenge of putting a line up against what he played was so wonderful. Chet gave you this terrific opportunity each time he soloed. He wasn’t in your way and his playing was so clear and his sense of direction so evident that it was of enormous assistance to me as a bassist.
JW: Was Baker’s approach different than other soloists?
BW: So many guys bulldog their way through, sometimes with an attitude of “To hell with what you’re doing—I’m here now.” Not with Chet [pictured]. The best moments of my career were as Chet’s wingman. He listened carefully to you and played something to flatter and support it. When he let you know he was there, it was a great feeling. You felt confident about going out on a limb without feeling you were going to be trapped. You always knew that Chet would be with you. I think Chet had a much higher skill level than Gerry.
JW: Was Mulligan aware of Baker’s natural abilities? Was it a source of friction?
BW: Gerry and Chet didn’t get along too well. Gerry was an egomaniac. He loved to picture himself as Chet’s mentor, that he had discovered Chet. He didn’t hesitate to let Chet know that. And naturally Chet resented it. Chet rightfully was a hell of a lot better soloist than Gerry and felt it was presumptuous for Gerry to say he discovered him.
JW: How would this antagonism play out?
BW: Whenever Gerry would make the slightest reference to being his mentor or the one who discovered him, Chet would get right in his face and make an ass of him. He’d call him right down on it. He’d say, “Hey Gerry, I’m me and you’re you. Don’t get too carried away with yourself.”
JW: Ouch. How did Mulligan respond?
BW: Gerry’s responses always reflected his disappointment that Chet didn’t fall in line with his line. Gerry really loved playing that role of being the godfather. Everything had to be “Gerry Mulligan and….” With Chet, Chet was always about what was going on. Chet had a facility that’s almost unimaginable. You had to be there playing behind him to fully appreciate the sound, the imagination and the beauty. Not to mention his ability to hook onto what was going on around him and add to it.
JW: What did you think of Chico Hamilton’s drumming in the quartet?
BW: It was terrific. At first, Chico could get a little bombastic, as any drummer would. Gerry used to climb all over him for it. Eventually, Chico brought down the volume of his playing. In the beginning, he was a bit too loud and too busy. Everything he played was “Dig me.” Gerry would just eat him alive. [Chico Hamilton pictured above on cover at bottom]
JW: How so?
BW: Gerry had an ability to wade in on you pretty good but at the same time make it clear that it wasn’t vindictive, that he did actually have something musical in mind. But it’s a painful way to hear from someone trying to help you.
JW: For example?
BW: Gerry wouldn’t allow Chico [pictured] to set up his whole drum set. I remember the first night Chico did, Gerry had him tear it down—the tom-tom and all the other drums. Eventually, Chico had a set up where he had a foot pedal attached to a tom-tom to use as a bass drum, for a lighter touch. Gerry wanted everything light as a feather. People used to call us the Chamber Music Society of Lower Wilshire Boulevard [laughs].
JW: What did that mean?
BW: A nice airy sound, clear and clean, that we kept the extraneous bullshit away. The beauty was the counterpoint. You can’t have intelligent sounding counterpoint if everyone is loud and banging away. But when everyone is listening closely to one another, then you hear where the other guys are going, and the other guys are going to feed off of you.
JW: So what was the bottom-line criteria for being in the quartet?
BW: What Gerry needed in that group was everyone listening carefully to each other and to be willing to be second fiddle to him. And to be an interesting musical conversationalist among the other members of the group. At most jam sessions, it’s you and the rhythm section. In the setting where you have two horns and a bass player and drummer trying to make something happen, you’re always functioning as a single unit. You have to be careful. You have to be inside the other person’s notes. We all felt lucky to be in that group.
JW: The drug scene was pretty hairy out in L.A. in the early ‘50s. Why?
BW: There were very few places in the country where drugs were more accessible. Los Angeles was close to the Mexican border, and there were large poor communities close by that bought and sold drugs.
JW: And for musicians?
BW: For musicians, that was the nature of using. You didn’t worry about the addiction until you were hooked. And by then, worrying about it was the least of your worries. In some perverse way that was the attraction of taking drugs—flirting with that kind of excitement.
JW: How did so many great L.A. players become hooked?
BW: In my case, my favorite musician at that time was Charlie Parker—in terms of sheer inventiveness, night after night. I just couldn’t imagine anyone else ever coming close to him in that regard. And then there was Billie Holiday and all these wonderful people who were junkies. I was a youngster and there was something mysterious and illogical about it. But there also was a mystique—that maybe I need to explore it to find myself as a person and artist. [Pictured above, Charlie Parker and Chet Baker]
JW: It seemed as though drugs were everywhere in the jazz scene then.
BW: It was a challenging period. Everyone you knew was using. You wanted to recreate the immortality of it. Gerry, of course, had been a heavy user. And yet he was so out there musically. He was very clever about his addiction though. He was one of the smarter addicts.
JW: How so?
BW: He kept it undercover very well. He didn’t advertise that he was using. There were a lot of guys who were so obvious that they were junkies. Gerry [pictured] never had the need to project that kind of image, possibly because his reputation was already established.
JW: Was Chet Baker a user when you knew him?
BW: Chet was a latecomer to hard drugs. He smoked as much pot as anyone alive though. My god, that guy was insatiable. But he wasn’t a hard-drug user at first. I remember the first time Chet ever used drugs. In a way, I feel kind of guilty about it. [Photo of Bob Whitlock above taken by Leslie Westbrook in 2012]
JW: How so?
BW: In 1952, I was going to score from a guy down in San Pedro, Calif., about a half hour south of Los Angeles. Chet drove down with me and stayed in the car while I went into the guy’s house. But I was in there too long to suit him.
JW: What happened?
BW: Eventually Chet came up and knocked on the door. It was an uncool thing to do, since anything could happen with paranoid people. Fortunately, the connection I was using knew that Chet was a musician and was cool.
JW: How did it play out?
BW: Chet came up to the door and asked where I was and why was I there so long. They let him in. Chet could sense that the situation wasn’t cool immediately and that he shouldn’t have come in. A connection feels very threatened when someone unknown comes into his house, even if he knows who that person is.
JW: What happened next?
BW: I had just gotten down, and the guy asked Chet, “You want to get off?” I think Chet was afraid not to because this guy represented some kind of threat.
JW: Threat how?
BW: I really don’t know how to go any deeper into that. It might have just passed, but I think Chet felt he needed to prove to this guy he wasn’t someone who was going to be dangerous to him. I also think Chet felt that he had gotten me in trouble and needed to undo that. I never urged him to do a thing and told him there was no need.
JW: Did Baker get high?
BW: Chet got down, and it was a terrible experience. He started vomiting. This stuff was very pure and strong. Chet got so whacked.
JW: Based on Baker's personality, it sounds like if he hadn’t started with you, he would probably have done so with someone else.
BW: He was hell-bound to do it. He always had that all-the-way-Jose mentality, whether it was playing the trumpet or smoking pot. He probably smoked enough pot by himself to last a lifetime. There was never any restraint or halfway with Chet.
JW: So you had nothing to do with convincing him to try heroin?
BW: My god, no. That has been put on me for so long. He was with me when he started, but I had absolutely nothing to do with pushing him into doing anything. Chet was always his own man. But to this day I feel guilty about the whole thing.
JW: How did you kick the habit?
BW: In 1976 I went into Synanon, the drug-treatment program in Santa Monica. I kicked there. I had gotten caught stealing and was arrested. It’s amazing I made it as long as I did before getting caught. When I was on probation, I visited my probation officer and he was amazed that I was both a Fulbright Scholar and a junkie.
JW: How did you become a Fulbright Scholar?
BW: I had written my masters thesis at UCLA on Anton Webern [pictured]. It won me a Fulbright. I studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Paris in 1961 and ’62. I originally was going to transcribe a manuscript but soon discovered that someone in London was already working on the project. I went to the Fulbright committee and told them about the project already in the works and that I wanted to make a switch.
JW: What did they say?
BW: They showed [contemporary classical composer and conductor] Pierre Boulez my thesis on the early, pre-serial music of Webern. Boulez said he would see me weekly. I was beyond happy but also scared to death.
BW: My original intent was to transcribe a manuscript and here I was studying Schoenberg and Berg with Boulez [pictured]. But then Boulez received a letter notifying him that he had to go to Baden-Baden in Germany.
BW: Boulez was founder and head of a program there. He told me that he was sorry, that he couldn’t follow through. He lined me up with his old teacher, Max Deutsch. So I studied with Max for a year, mainly Schoenberg and Berg quartets.
JW: Did you gig in Paris as well as study?
BW: Yes. About two weeks after I had arrived in Paris I was hired for drummer Kenny Clarke’s group, which included Rene Urtreger on piano and Jimmy Gourley on guitar.
JW: Who else did you gig with?
BW: Zoot Sims came over from the States around December of ‘61. After that I worked with Kenny Drew. Only lousy thing about the gig was that the owner got to sing with the group every night.
JW: And Baker?
BW: I played with him again but not as much as I would have liked. I left Paris in May ’62. Chet had been in jail in Italy, and I just missed him in Paris after he was released.
JW: What do you think about Baker, looking back?
BW: Chet never should have ever done that, and I should never have let it happen. I didn’t encourage it, but I should have done more to prevent it—myself included. I wish I had never gotten into drugs.
JW: Why did you?
BW: I was just trying to be one of the big guys. All the people I worshiped were using: Art Pepper [pictured above], Zoot—all the guys. It was the thing to do.
JW: Who got you hooked?
BW: Some guy I had known in junior high school. One day we were talking and it turned out that both of us were smoking weed. But he was also using.
JW: Why did you leave the Gerry Mulligan Quartet?
BW: The first time I left was in the summer of ’53. We were playing at the Haig. We had recorded the one album and I was offered a job to accompany June Christy [pictured above] and Vido Musso. So I told Gerry I was leaving. We weren’t working, and I needed income. I said, “Gerry, all we do are these auditions and stuff. I have to go up for two weeks and work, and then I’ll be back.” The gig was at the Say When Club in San Francisco.
JW: How did Mulligan take it?
BW: He was fine with it. But right after I left, Gerry and the quartet got booked into the Blackhawk in San Francisco.
JW: How did you feel?
BW: I was ready to shoot myself [laughs]. Gerry had gotten Carson Smith [pictured above on bass]. A couple of weeks later Gerry offered me the job back. I have no idea why, but I took it. Playing behind June was OK, but I was kind of sorry I had taken the gig.
BW: She was great, but I had missed out on the quartet’s breakout. I worked with the quartet into the beginning of ‘53. I left the second time after Gerry and I got into a big fight.
JW: Over money?
BW: No, Chet and I had gotten busted.
JW: How did that happen?
BW: Carson Smith used to come into the Haig to check us out. One night we were out in Chet’s car—just Chet, Carson and me. We were smoking weed when we saw a squad car go by. Chet flipped the roach out the window. The cops saw it in their rear-view mirror and backed up and were right on us.
JW: You were arrested for a roach?
BW: Not quite. It turned out that Chet and one of the cops were from the same town in Oklahoma and they got to talking. Which was great. I sighed and thought we weren’t going to go to jail. But then the other cop was a hard-ass and said they had to search the car. They wound up finding two full lids [ounces] of pot and took us all in.
JW: What was Mulligan’s reaction?
BW: When I got out two days later, Gerry [pictured above] got all over me. “You and Chet are bad news for each other,” he said. I went back all over him. I said, “You’re a fucking hypocrite. How can you sit there and talk to me about using considering what you’ve done?” It was kind of threatening, like were going to get into it physically. But then we came to our senses. I told him he could shove the job up his ass. Gerry said you ain’t got no job. The irony, of course, is that Gerry got busted a short time later.
JW: What did you do?
BW: I went back to Utah. Two of my cousins had come into the Haig and saw the condition I was in and were ready to kidnap me to get me back in health. I stayed back there for about seven months. There was no messing around up there. When I returned to L.A., I started working with Art Pepper again and Stan Getz for a while.
JW: What do you think when you look back on the Gerry Mulligan Quartet?
BW: I feel proud to have been a part of it. I feel a lot of pride in that group. Those were the greatest months of my career. I felt very lucky. I was barely old enough to buy a drink and was already playing with one of the major groups in jazz. I was dumbfounded by it and impressed with myself. I wish I had made different choices back then. But I was young, excited and didn’t know any better. [Photo of Bob Whitlock taken by Leslie Westbrook in 2012]
A special JazzWax thanks to Leslie Westbrook.
JazzWax note: For more on how Dave Pell took the famous photo of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet 10-inch album at the top of this post—the first release by Pacific Jazz—go here.
JazzWax tracks: The Pacific Jazz recordings of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet can be found on a two-CD set, The Original Quartet with Chet Baker, here. Bob Whitlock is on tracks #6 through #14 on disc #1.
For more recordings by Bob Whitlock, see the bottoms of the individual installments of this interview by going here, here, here and here.