"It's nice music, and I knew there were people who'd like to hear it as much as I would," said Mulligan, who plans to perform the classic arrangements of such tunes as "Move," "Jeru," "Godchild" and "Budo" Saturday at the Ford Theater. Konitz, Farmer and trombonist Rob McConnell will be among the musicians on hand.
The original Birth of the Cool group included such low-brass instruments as French horn and tuba and mirrored the ethereal sound of the Claude Thornhill band, but in a reduced size. But it played just one two-week engagement at the Royal Roost nightclub in New York.
"I wanted to see how these vehicles would feel being performed today since we didn't play together long and never got a chance to see how the group might have evolved," he said.
As only two of the original arrangements could be located, Mulligan had the other selections transcribed off the initial recordings. This was difficult, because, Mulligan said, the sound of the sessions is cloudy, and it's hard to tell which horns are playing what parts.
That problem doesn't exist on the new album, which features Wallace Roney in Davis' chair, and Phil Woods in Konitz's.
"It has the resonance that we couldn't get in the studio years ago, and I love it," he said. "This is the sound we were striving for, and, at our best, the sound the band got live."
Last summer, Mulligan told Davis of his plans to re-record the vintage material, and the trumpeter expressed interest in participating, but he died before the recording was ready to be made.
Looking over his current agenda of playing with his quartet and the "Re-Birth of the Cool" band, which also offers additional Mulligan material, the artist sees similarities and differences. "A lot of the big-band (material) has a quartet feel; some of it reveals the 'Birth of the Cool' conception.
"You have to remember: The more people you have in a band, the harder it is to have instant communication between the guys. With a little band you can call out changes and things happen immediately. With more people, it takes longer to get the information around. The big-band format has to be more settled."
* \o7 The Gerry Mulligan Quartet plays Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Newporter Resort, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach. $12. (714) 729-1234.\f7