The Hunt for New Music:
Stan Getz is a jazz saxophonist who was born on February 2nd, 1927 and who died on June 6th, 1991. Getz is being treated in the first person—as if he were still here—because he is. It is midnight and I am listening to one of the classics of modern jazz, the incandescently lyrical JAZZ SAMBA ENCORE Getz did with Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa . Recorded in 1964, the album is every bit as beautiful and powerful as it was the day it was released. It was the second album in Getz’s Bossa Nova series; the first was Jazz Samba, recorded with Charlie Byrd in 1962 in Washington National Cathedral (great acoustics). JAZZ SAMBA ENCORE sold over a million copies and gave Getz a second gold disc, to go with the one he received for JAZZ SAMBA, which was recorded in1962 (the hit off of that album was the rather amazingly lyrical “Samba de una nota so” or “One Note Samba”). Gets won his first Grammy for that one, Best Jazz Performance, but the real impact was wider than the album, as Getz had introduced to America a new form of music called “Bossa Nova (New Trend)”, a rich, uniquely Brazilian style of music which is a fusion of Jazz and Samba (hence the name of his first album).
A jazz album selling a million copies was a world wide phenomenon in the sixties and Getz was at the forefront, producing a string of million selling/Grammy winning albums. His GETZ/GILBERTO album recorded with Brazilian composer/guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim (also known as Tom Jobim, who composed “The Girl From Ipanema”) and Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud (who sang “The Girl from Ipanema”) won two more Grammy awards and became a mainstay of the modern jazz repertoire. Getz followed that one up with GETZ/GILBERTO 2 and then did GETZ AU GO GO, a live recording produced at the Café Au Go Go . Perhaps getting more into his work than was healthy, Getz was rumored to have had an affair with the lovely Astrud Gilberto, a situation which put an end to future collaborations with her husband but by that time Getz, worried about being too tightly categorized as a bossa nova only musician was ready to move on.
Stan Getz was nicknamed “The Sound” by people in the music business for the purity of the sound of his saxophone. Somewhere, I once read that others in the business called him “The Tone”, and that moniker is more appropriate. There was a smoothness and lyricism in Getz’s saxophone style that no one has since duplicated. His style and sense of lyric and melody were highly perfected by the time he reached the world stage; with technical competence a non-issue, Getz was free to explore the potential of his talent and his instrument.
He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a mother and father who had emigrated to the United States from the Ukraine in 1903. A very good student early on, Getz become fascinated by musical instruments; it was said that he could play almost any instrument, but it was the saxophone that found his attention. At one time, he was practicing eight hours a day.
Although Getz was spotted early on as a talent (he was granted admission into the All-City High School Orchestra in New York where he received top notch tutoring and private lessons), he was no less rebellious than any young musician and constantly in trouble with the school authorities.
In 1943, only 16 years old, he decided that school was not for him and joined Jack Teagarden’s band (Teagarden was his guardian). Early in his career he played with the greats of Jazz: Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Zoot Sims (One of the famous “Four Brothers” saxophonist section in Herman’s Band-Getz was also one of the Brothers), Horace Silver, Johnny Smith, Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie. With Gillespie, he formed the Dizzy Gillespie/Stan Getz Sextet, with Gillespie, Getz, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and drummer Max Roach (the jazz equivalent of combining the Beatles with the Stones and Led Zepplin). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Getz_discography
Getz was a musician with musician style issues. He had problems with drugs—serious drugs too, like heroin and morphine. Goes with the territory. He had multiple wives, multiple kids, became an ex-pat living in Scandinavia (Copenhagen). Also goes with the territory. Importantly for us, he was prodigious in his output. I counted 177 discs with Getz listed as “leader” and I don’t count that well. That number does not include the other discs on which he was a contributor (Bet you didn’t know that Stan Getz played the saxophone solo in Huey Lewis & The News’ hit “Small World”). Not only was he great, he was great a lot. He loved to play almost as much as I love to listen.
One of the things that makes music so great is that really terrific music is timeless. Stan Getz died in 1991 but his discography keeps growing and you really need to get into it.
If you don’t have any Getz in your life or your music library or loaded on your computer or phone or iPod, I have a few suggestions:
Jazz Samba Encore
The Bossa Nova Years
Getz Au Go Go
Mickey One (Soundtrack)
Stan Meets Chet (with tragic, brilliant trumpet player Chet Baker)
Stan Getz & The Oscar Peterson Trio
And just about any live album
Live at Monmartre (Vol. 1 and Vol 2)
Getz was very, very good and he had a sound, a tone, that was and is literally without equal. There are certain times in the day when only his sax will do: late at night in the summer, by the pool, a glass of scotch at hand, the weekend arriving in minutes, Getz-any Getz—is the perfect soundtrack for transition. Getz is always great weekend music, and so finding this live concert on YouTube was just perfect.
I had written the short piece on Getz (above) about a year ago and was waiting to post it–for reasons that escape me–and then when I saw the live concert I recognized the sign and decided to meld the two together: a brief introduction to Getz accompanied by a full length concert of Getz on stage playing a great selection of his hits.
If you like excellence in music, this is one person and one concert for the ages.
The Fine Print: This concert embed via Youtube and PrivateServe, the company/entity that posted it on YouTube. Please know: this is serious music. The concert is 3 hours long so it’s a true weekend concert. It was originally published on September 26th, 2013. All rights reserved by their respective artists. We thank YouTube and PrivateServe for making the concert available.
The Hunt for New Music: