Saturday, July 09, 2011

Stan Getz - The Complete Columbia Albums Collection

Know what’s really cool to a music lover? When record labels that own a big chunk of an important artist’s output release it as thoroughly, as nicely and as affordably as Sony is doing in its “The Complete” reissue series available on the newly-launched online retailer Pop Market.

Pop Market at popmarket.com is a resource for some of Sony’s most commanding releases – mostly box sets and special packages – and offers outstanding music that is not only available exclusively at this location but also “daily deals” that can save subscribers up to 50 percent off of regular retail prices. All it takes to subscribe is an email address and all you get are “daily deal” announcements, no spam.

One of Pop Market’s best offerings is “The Complete” series. These beautifully produced box sets collect the entirety of an artist’s output for Sony-owned labels and some are absolutely exclusive to Pop Market. So far the series features sets by The Byrds, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Return to Forever and this one, dedicated to Stan Getz.

Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz (1927-91) is one of jazz’s best and best-known sax players. His warm, lyrical sound transcended many fads and fashions in jazz and was remarkably consistent throughout his long and varied career. Although he played everything from bebop to cool jazz, he is best remembered for popularizing the warm wave of the Brazilian Bossa Nova in America during the early 1960s, scoring huge, timeless hits with such songs as “The Girl from Ipanema.”

After a long tenure and much success at Verve Records (1952-72), Getz spent most the 1970s at Columbia, where he waxed several more classics and created a diverse body of work that holds up especially well some four decades later. The saxophonist’s work in the ‘70s mirrors much of the work he did in the ‘60s – in small group, sax and strings, even Bossa Nova settings – but adds the era’s added amplification (electric basses, keyboards, etc) and some especially improved recording techniques to give Getz an up-to-date sound that doesn’t compromise any of his dynamic lyricism or his patented delivery.

Stan Getz – The Complete Columbia Albums Collection gathers all seven of the saxophonist’s Columbia albums plus a bonus disc of Getz concert material featured on other albums during the period in a handsome, sturdy box that fits easily on most CD shelves with each individual album packaged in replica mini LP sleeves reproducing the original record’s exact graphics, and a 15-page booklet with complete discographical information, photos and liner notes by the set’s producer, Richard Seidel (who oversaw the majority of Getz’s Verve reissues in the 1990s when he was president of Verve).

This stunning package is a tremendous addition to any jazz collection and catalogs the fine, timeless and nearly forgotten work Stan Getz contributed to jazz in the 1970s. Nearly all the music here was produced by the saxophonist, indicating that the artist alone had much control in the way his music was prepared and presented. This explains why his performance throughout sounds so impassioned. It’s clear that he loved the music he recorded during this time. This box set is well worth celebrating.

Captain Marvel: Recorded in 1972, but surprisingly not issued until 1975, this excellent recording features Getz fronting what was then the nucleus of Return to Forever, the group fronted by keyboardist/composer Chick Corea (who was first heard with Getz on the saxophonist’s 1967 classic Sweet Rain). With Chick Corea (electric piano), Stanley Clarke (bass), Tony Williams (drums) and Airto Moreira (percussion), the group waxes a mostly Chick Corea program with Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” thrown in for good measure and includes the two alternate-take bonus tracks of “Captain Marvel” and “Five Hundred Miles High” included on the 2003 CD reissue of the album.

The Best Of Two Worlds featuring Joao Gilberto: Recorded in 1975 and issued in 1976, The Best of Two Worlds was Stan Getz’s first Bossa Nova record in more than a decade and reunited him with composer, guitarist and vocalist Joao Gilberto, who had waxed two successful Verve albums with the saxophonist in 1964 and 1965, among Getz’s last Bossa Nova adventures. With Albert Dailey (piano), Joao Gilberto (guitar, percussion, vocals), Oscar Castro-Neves (guitar), Clint Houston or Steve Swallow (bass), Billy Hart or Grady Tate (drums), Airto Moreira, Rubens Bassini, Ray Armando and Sonny Carr (percussion) and Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda (vocals, also pictured on the album’s front cover), the leaders take listeners on a journey through a new set of samba classics that sound perfectly at home in the previous generation of Bossa Nova greats and as genuinely timeless as the older, better-known songs. Alternate takes of three titles not available on the 1990 single-issue CD are included here too.

The Master: Although recorded in 1975, this splendid outing wasn’t issued until late 1982, long after Stan Getz had left the label. This straight-ahead jazz outing probably wasn’t what the suits at Black Rock wanted at the height of jazz fusion and the introduction of disco into the vocabulary of all popular music. Oddly, in 1982, it probably sounded better when Wynton Marsalis and other “young lions” were reclaiming the pre-electric sound of jazz as the authentic voice of the music. Regardless, it’s a terrific performance offering Getz’s working group of the time, featuring Albert Dailey (piano), Clint Houston (bass) and Billy Hart (drums), reflecting on three long standards and (surprisingly) Ralph Towner’s “Raven’s Wood.” This is the first appearance of The Master on CD outside of an obscure and now extremely rare and out-of-print CD issued in Europe in the mid 1990s.

Stan Getz Presents Jimmie Rowles: The Peacocks: Stan Getz came up with pianist Jimmie (also Jimmy) Rowles (1918-96) in Woody Herman’s 1940s big band and the two were also paired on a 1954 Getz session. They hadn’t worked together since those fabled days of yore and while Getz found fame as a soloist, Rowles was only acknowledged as an accompanist for great singers like Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. Getz put Rowles’s name on the cover of this 1975 recording (issued in 1977) to give the pianist his shot at recognition and ended up scoring a jazz standard out of Rowles’s title track, which like “Moonlight in Vermont” several decades before became famous for someone because of Stan Getz’s perfectly melodic carriage. The album is a feature for Rowles on solo piano (“Body and Soul,” “Mosaic/Would You Like To Take A Walk”), duets with Rowles and Getz (including “The Peacocks”), five group performances adding Getz, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Elvin Jones and one of which (Wayne Shorter’s “The Chess Players”) adds a vocal section including Jon Hendricks, Judy Hendricks, Michelle Hendricks and Beverly Getz. Jimmie Rowles himself sings on four tracks as well. The Peacocks was issued domestically on CD in 1994 and has been out of print for a few years now. Gotta dig the Yellow Submarine-esque cover!

Another World: This little-known gem was recorded in 1977 and issued in late 1978 and highlights a dazzling program that mixes things up a little bit for the saxophonist without getting too far afield from his naturally swinging thing. It’s easily considered a jazz fusion outing, but occasional electronics aside, it really cooks with a great deal of the fire and passion Getz displayed in his youth. Featuring Andy Laverne (keyboards), Mike Richmond (bass), Billy Hart (drums) and Efrain Toro (percussion) in a remarkably pristine recording caught live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1977, Another World is Stan Getz doing what he does best: cool when it’s called for and hot when the groove goes south. All the audience noise is filtered out and it’s possible that a number of synthesized effects were added after the fact. But nearly everything here is worth savoring and the playing from all concerned – notably Getz and Andy Laverne – is worth hearing and appreciating. Andy Laverne’s funky “Keep Dreaming,” Mike Richmond’s jaunty “Sum Sum” and Mercer Ellington’s pensive “Blue Serge” are as much the album’s highlights as Another World is a highlight of this box. Another World was issued on European CD in 1994 and has long been out of print.

Children Of The World: The third of Stan Getz’s Columbia “world” albums, Children of the World reunites the saxophonist with composer Lalo Schifrin, who had previously worked with the saxophonist on part of the 1964 Verve album Reflections. First issued in 1979, this forgotten album features a bevy of pleasant, lightweight tunes from the pen of composer Schifrin, played with slick prettiness by Mr. Getz. Getz and Schifrin pull off a nice set of easy-listening Schifrin originals, accompanied by a large group of LA studio musicians. Most memorable are "Street Tattoo" (from the film Boulevard Nights - George Benson performed the original), "Around the Day in Eighty Worlds" (which Jon Faddis re-interprets quite nicely on Schifrin's own Firebird) and "The Dreamer." The album also includes “On Rainy Afternoons,” based on a theme from Schifrin’s score to The Eagle Has Landed and one the composer arranged for Barbra Streisand’s Wet album, as well as a cover of the horrifically awful “Don’t Cry For Me Argentine,” which supposedly does not include Schifrin’s participation. All in all, it makes for exceptionally good light jazz but it shies a bit away from being entirely memorable – even though it is probably my favorite album in the whole box (although an unissued song from the sessions called “November Landscape” is not included here and remains unissued). The album was issued on a European CD in 1995 and has long been out of print and otherwise unavailable until now. Love the Charles M. Schulz cover.

Forest Eyes - Music Composed, Arranged & Conducted by Jurre Haanstra: Perhaps the nicest surprise in the entirety of the Stan Getz - The Complete Columbia Albums Collection is the inclusion of Forest Eyes, a “strings” album the tenor saxophonist recorded in Holland in late 1979 with Dutch composer Jurre Haanstra. The little-known album has never appeared before in the United States and recalls such previous Getz triumphs waxed years earlier with Eddie Sauter, namely Focus (Verve, 1962) and the soundtrack album Mickey One (Verve, 1965). Haanstra (b. 1952), best known as a composer of film and TV scores, notably for his father, director Bert Haanstra (1916-97), and for the popular Dutch detective series Baantjer, featuring harmonica player Jean 'Toots' Thielemans as guest soloist, got his start as a jazz drummer and percussionist (he plays drums on this album’s “Tails Part 2” and “Little Lady”). He has since gone on to become a world-class conductor and composer and arranger for a diverse range of artists including Petula Clark, Michael Franks, Johnny Griffin, Julian Joseph, Michel Petrucciani and Clark Terry. Haanstra crafts a lovely canvas for Getz to splash his lyrical watercolors upon here, mixing traditional orchestral jazz with some late 70s fusion grooves, among which stand out as the album’s best moments (the Bob James-like “Tails Part 1 & 2” and “Little Lady” especially). Though often considered a soundtrack album, Forest Eyes only features several of Jurre Haanstra’s songs from his father Bert’s 1979 film Een Pak Slaag (the main theme, “Shades of Blue,” “Silva” and “Eye of The Storm”). Getz is typically lovely from start to finish. But brief as it is, Forest Eyes sadly never offers that one compositional moment that makes you feel this is anywhere near as significant as something like Focus. Forest Eyes was issued on CD in Europe in the mid ‘90s and has long been out of print until now.

Bonus Disc: An amazing 66 minutes that includes “Four Brothers,” “Early Autumn,” “Cousins,” “Blue Serge,” “Blue Getz Eyes” and “Caldonia” from the 1976 Woody Herman/The New Thundering Herd album The 40th Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert Recorded Live…November 20, 1976 (RCA, 1977), a gorgeous quartet version of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” (with Bob James on piano) from Montreux Summit (Columbia, 1977) and “Tin Tin Deo” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” (with Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton, Percy Heath, Tony Williams and others) from Havana Jam 2 (Columbia, 1979).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us which are the alternate takes in The Best of Two Worlds? Thanks.

Douglas Payne said...

The bonus alternate tracks on "The Best of Two Worlds" are "Eu Vim Da Bahia," "E Preciso Perdoar" and "Just One Of Those Things." Thanks for asking...I should have identified them in the text above.

Al Rearick said...

This comment has more to do with the Complete Series than the Getz box: how cool would it have been if their Byrds box included the mono versions of the LPs that were issued in both stereo and mono? Of course, then I go from that thought to "maybe they'll just do a separate mono box like they did with Dylan," to "it sure would be cool if they would do the same thing with Simon & Garfunkel," to....

Anonymous said...

Although a neat little box, this is not the "Stan Getz" you would like to hear if you would be looking for his best stuff. These recording are all mediocre with just a few exceptions. Start with anything on Verve and you'll see my point.

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Emilio Cacao said...

How come I just found out about this box now? It looks great!