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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke




Crotchet
 

The Very Best of

STAN GETZ

VERVE 584 210-2

  1. Stella by Starlight
  2. It Don’t mean a Thing
  3. East of the Sun
  4. My Funny Valentine
  5. Evening in Paris
  6. Night Rider
  7. Desafinado
  8. The Girl from Ipanema
  9. Con alma
  10. Blood Count
  11. Night and day
  12. 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.

 

Don Mather



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