Stan Getz died twenty-six years ago on June 6, 1991. Jazz à la Mode was a ninety-minute show back then, and I spent several nights paying memorial tribute the great saxophonist. In the midst of it, a musician friend chided me for devoting what he said was an undeserved amount of time to Getz. “You’re only doing it because he’s popular,” he charged. I replied that, on the contrary, I was doing it because his playing was unfailingly beautiful and, notwithstanding his success, he continually sought out new challenges, new settings, and younger musicians to whom he gave relatively free rein. I added that it would be irresponsible for me as a radio host to ignore a player whose music touched more people than just about any other modern jazz artist. A few years later, my man pulled me aside at a club to say he’d given Getz another hearing and had become a deeper fan than he’d ever imagined.
Today is Stan Getz’s 90th birthday anniversary. To mark the occasion, I’m posting links to two previous posts, and adding several YouTube files that I’ve discovered this week.
Getz’s 1962 album with Charlie Byrd, Jazz Samba, popularized Brazilian music in the U.S. and fueled the vogue for bossa nova that swept the nation in the mid-sixties. Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, and Byrd himself were earlier proponents of the style, but it took Getz, whose warm, lyrical tone was perfectly suited to the melancholy strain of bossa nova– Brazilian blues, if you will– to make it a household name.
Here’s Stan (with pianist Bob Winter, bassist John Lockwood , drummer Grady Tate) playing “Goodbye” at his appearance with the Boston Pops in May 1990. Pops conductor John Williams should not be confused with the pianist of that name who recorded extensively with Getz in 1952-’53.
Also from his Pops concert, here’s “My Shining Hour.”
“Sippin’ at Bells” was composed by Miles Davis and recorded by the trumpeter in 1947. Getz recorded it on his 1982 album, Pure Getz, and plays it here with Chet Baker in Copenhagen in 1983. Miles paid Getz
My earlier post about Getz in Worcester refers to his performance there at Sir Morgan’s Cove in 1973. The quartet he was leading at the time was short-lived and went unrecorded, but it’s preserved on film playing “Wave” in Copenhagen. The group includes drummer Billy Hart, bassist Dave Holland, and pianist Albert Dailey. Getz thought the world of Dailey and reconnected with him in 1983 to record the album, Poetry. He gave the pianist co-billing and in a liner note essay called him a “secret” and puzzled over his neglect.
Getz is seen here in Paris performing “Now You’re Gone,” with composer and conductor Michel Legrand.