Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stan Getz + Oscar Peterson Trio

Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 8251)

Stan Getz (ts), Oscar Peterson (p), Herb Ellis (g), Ray Brown (b)
Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, CA, October 10, 1957

Stan Getz according to Whitney Balliett:

"What a monstrous angel the tenor saxophonist Stan Getz was! Born in 1927, of Russian Jewish stock, he was driven by the extraordinary lyrical heat that marked so many of the Russian Jewish musicians who graced jazz in the thirties and forties.

There were many Getzes, and their schizoid tendencies prompted Zoot Sims's famous mot "Stan is a nice bunch of guys."

He was the most persuasive of the throng of white tenor saxophonists who were influenced by Lester Young in the forties. But eventually the castles of sound that Getz built on Young's style had little to do with the no-nonsense, down-to-earth Young; these sounds were, in fact, startlingly new in jazz. Getz became a romantic, an idol, a kind of Liszt or Elvis Presley. The idolatry that surrounded him grew out of his dulcet, swooning ballads and his beseeching, let-me-in tone.

In time, Getz's style became closer to the playing of Young's stylistic opposites - the master saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Johnny Hodges, all of whom had been setting down hymnlike ballads since the thirties. But there was a fundamental difference -- an almost black-white thing -- between these men and Getz. The older men were grounded in the blues; blues notes and blues figuration formed a subtle underpinning to everything they played...Getz, on the other hand, was not a striking blues player, and his style was highly personal. It recalled the playing, in the fifties and sixties, of his friend and admirer Miles Davis...There was a self-pitying edge, an oh-me-oh-my sound in Getz and Davis, and one wonders whether their dependence on drugs caused this plaintiveness, or whether they used their music to air their various neuroses and private woes.

Getz's singular tone grew partly out of the skewed emotional freight he carried with him most of his life and partly out of the fact the he had started on the alto saxophone. Although he soon switched to the tenor, he never mastered its full tonal possibilities. (Consider Hawkins and Webster.) In almost every solo, he would shoot into upper register, and the sorrowing sounds would take over. These accents gave his playing a feminine quality, and suggested that he was an alto saxophonist trapped inside a tenor saxophonist.

Getz was a superb musician. (He once said that the perfect tenor saxophonist would have "my technique, Al Cohn's ideas, and Zoot's time.") A lightning reader, he was never fazed, as many jazz musicians are, by new material...He was equally at ease in very fast tempos, [in] rocking middle speeds, and in ad-lib ballads. He could play straight melody without being florid or freezing (a failing of many post-Charlie Parker musicians), and he was a consummate melodic improviser, a maker of instant new melody.

[In retrospect,] he may have worn his troubled Jewish heart on his sleeves, but, at his best, he could play rings around God."

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