- Stella by Starlight
- It Don’t mean a Thing
- East of the Sun
- My Funny Valentine
- Evening in Paris
- Night Rider
- The Girl from Ipanema
- Con alma
- Blood Count
- Night and day
- Soul Eyes
The selection chosen here covers the period 1952 to 1991 and it is
presented in chronological order. The task of selecting the best of
Stan Getz is a very daunting one. If I had to do it, I think I would
come to a different conclusion at every listening session. Stan was
for me the greatest tenor saxophone player ever. He had in abundance
that which most players only have in small amounts, timing, a seemingly
endless flow of ideas when improvising, a musical memory that enabled
him to remember any score after one run through and a unique sound
that made him instantly
identifiable. He was by all accounts a difficult man to get on with,
Zoot Sims a contemporary said, " Stan Getz is a lovely bunch
of guys", but it seems to go with the territory. Stan constantly
strove for musical perfection and he expected it from everyone else.
‘Stella by Starlight’ was a tune Stan had in his repertoire for most
of his career and few if any have ever played it better that he did.
This track which dates from 1952 includes Jimmy Raney on Guitar, a
musician that Stan frequently worked with at that time, there is real
empathy between them. By 1952 the Getz sound was fully developed and
it change little in later years.
‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ comes from a 1953 session with Dizzy Gillespie
and Oscar Peterson. Oscar said of the session "Dizzy had come
to eat someone that day and it wasn’t going to be me". It obviously
wasn’t Stan either because he holds his own with Diz and contributes
greatly to the enjoyment.
‘East of the Sun’ has Stan in West Coast company with Conte Condoli,
Lou Levy, Leroy Vinnegar and Shelley Manne. Stan’s final theme statement
on the last chorus of this is outstanding.
‘My Funny Valentine’ was recorded in 1957 at a concert at the Shrine
auditorium in Los Angeles, the same venue as the Stan Getz at the
Shrine sessions with Bob Brookmeyer. J J Johnson was an outstanding
jazz player, probably the first to really grasp the playing of BeBop
on that instrument; his playing here does not disappoint.
The last chorus has some nice counterpoint between the two horns.
‘Evening in Paris was written by British pianist Victor Feldman,
who also plays piano on this track. Victor played well with Stan and
I thoroughly enjoyed this track from a record called ‘Stan the Man’
which I will now try to track down.
‘Night Rider’ is an Eddie Sauter tune, he wrote the arrangement and
conducted the string backing, and unusually for 1961 Stan’s contribution
was recorded later.
‘Desafinado and The Girl from Ipanema’ gave Stan the financial independence
that most jazz musicians never get.
‘Con Alma’ is a Dizzy Gillespie composition; this track comes from
an LP called Sweet Rain. Chick Corea is on piano, Ron Carter on Bass
and Grady Tate on Drums, personally I find the drumming intrusive,
but perhaps Stan wanted it that way.
Billy Strayhorn wrote ‘Blood Count’, on his deathbed. When Stan recorded
it in 1987, he knew that he had cancer and that his life expectancy
was not great. His playing of this poignant ballad is very beautiful.
Finally there are two tracks from the ‘People Time’ album Stan made
with pianist Kenny Barron. Of all the pianists that he worked with,
there was no one more suited to the task than Kenny, who is also a
star soloist in his own right This is probably the best jazz duo you
will ever hear.
These tracks are worthy of the name ‘The Very Best of Stan Getz’,
but there are lots more excellent tracks to choose from. Any chance
of a commission to select the Very Best of Stan Getz Vol. 2? It would
be a delightful task.