Stan Getz - tenor sax; Albert Dailey - piano; Clint Houston - bass; Billy Hart - drums; Ray Armando - percussion; Special guests:; Gary Burton - vibes; Steve Swallow - bass; Heloisa Gilberto - vocals; Mabel Mercer - vocals; Charlie Byrd - guitar; Sam Brown - guitar; Jimmy Lyons - piano; Jimmy Rowles - piano, vocals
For this 1975 Avery Fisher hall gala, Newport Jazz Festival impresario George Wein feted his old friend Stan Getz, who had appeared at the very first annual summer festival in Rhode Island back in 1954. By this point in his illustrious career, which spanned bebop, cool jazz, and the birth of the samba jazz movement in the United States, the great tenor saxophonist was touring with his working quartet of pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Clint Houston, and drummer Billy Hart. Several special guests also appear throughout the evening, including guitarist Charlie Byrd, pianist Jimmy Rowles, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and vocalists Heloisa Gilberto and Mabel Mercer.
First up on the lengthy program is Byrd, who appears in a trio with his bassist brother Joe and drummer Ron Davis. Performing on nylon string guitar, Byrd and his sidemen run through a buoyant, vaguely bossa nova flavored rendition of "Top Hat White Tie and Tails," an Irving Berlin nugget associated with tap dancer-singer Fred Astaire. Byrd's contrapuntal approach to his instrument on this jaunty number should be of special interest to guitar aficionados. Byrd announces that the next number, the exquisite "Prelude for the Southern Cross, is by "a songwriter not very well known in this country yet, but I predict he might be"— Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, who in the past 20 years has enjoyed something of a rediscovery by a number of jazz artists, including guitarist Al Di Meola, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and accordian virtuoso Richard Galliano. The alluring tango is interpreted with sensitivity and grace by Byrd's trio. Next up is swinging rendition of the Swing era staple by Charlie Shavers, "Undecided," featuring some slick, supple brushwork from Davis. And the trio completes its portion of the show with a rendition of "Don't Lend Your Guitar to Anymore" a brisk chorinho by Brazilian composer Benito De Paulo.
Next up on the program is pianist Jimmy Rowles, who is praised by emcees Marian McPartland and Alec Wilder for his sparse approach to his instrument. Or as McPartland points out, "I think he must've heard that saying of Count Basie's, 'When in doubt, leave it out.'" Playing solo, Rowles opens his brief set with a relaxed rendition of the 1916 Broadway show tune "Poor Butterfly," which eventually develops into a delightful bit of stride playing midway through. Rowles follows with a gorgeous rendition of the George and Ira Gershwin standard, "Someone to Watch Over Me," before accompanying himself on an intimate vocal rendition of the Tin Pan Alley chestnut, "My Buddy." Getz then joins Rowles for a couple of duet numbers, including a robust reading of Duke Ellington's "What Am I Here For?," Wayne Shorter's "Lester Left Town" (written as a memorial for tenor sax great Lester Young), and Rowles' own hauntingly beautiful ballad "The Peacocks." (The two would get together four months later to record these tunes, and others, for their acclaimed Columbia Records collaboration, The Peacocks).
McPartland and Wilder then introduce the incredible four-mallet vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton, who had played his first Newport Jazz Festival in Stan Getz's band back in 1965. The Indiana native and Berklee College of Music educator opens with luminous readings of two Chick Corea compositions—"Desert Air" and "Crystal Silence" (both of which appeared on the 1972 Corea-Burton duet album, Crystal Silence, on ECM). He is then joined by drummer Billy Hart and electric bassist Steve Swallow, along with Getz himself, for soulful readings of Baden Powell's "Samba Triste" and Jimmy Van Heusen's poignant "Here's That Rainy Day."
Following an intermission, McPartland and Wilder then introduce the Stan Getz Quartet featuring pianist Dailey, bassist Houston, and drummer Hart. They open up with a swinging mid-tempo blues distinguished by the leader's buttery tone and fluid approach and follow with a spirited rendition of Ralph Towner's "Ravenswood," an Oregon number that has the tenor saxophonist blowing with typical verve on top of his driving rhythm section. Next up, Getz introduces Brazilian vocalist Heloisa Gilberto (wife of Gil Gilberto) to sing (in English) Jobim's buoyant "The Double Rainbow," accompanied by Getz's quartet and guest guitarist Sam Brown. That same ensemble then turns in a bossa nova flavored rendition of the classic Cole Porter tune "Just One of Those Things," with Getz weaving his tenor magic behind Heloisa's voice.
Joao Gilberto, who was scheduled to appear on this show, fell ill and was replaced by his 10-year-old daughter Isabel (now known as the popular Brazilian recording artist Bebel Gilberto), who joins her mother Heloisa in lovely Portuguese rendition of a loping unnamed samba tune. The 76-year-old British-born cabaret singer Mabel Mercer is next accompanied by pianist Jimmy Lyons, bassist Houston, drummer Hart, and tenor man Getz on renditions of the jazz standards "I Remember April" and "These Foolish Things," the Rodgers & Hart show tune "Falling in Love with Love," and Cole Porter's "From This Moment On." And while Mercer's overly-theatrical rolling 'r's and over-the-top delivery might seem antiquated and quite broad, Getz's velvety sax accompaniment is typically lush and brilliant, putting a nostalgic capper on this eventful evening at Avery Fisher Hall.
A perennial favorite at the Newport Jazz Festival, Getz was born Stanley Gayetsky on February 2, 1927, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were Ukrainian Jews who emigrated from the Kiev, Ukraine area in 1903. The family later moved to New York City for better employment opportunities. Getz grew up in the Bronx and began playing saxophone at age 13. In 1943, at the age of 16, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden's big band. Because of his youth he became Teagarden's legal ward.
There followed stints in the big bands of Stan Kenton (1944-1945), Jimmy Dorsey (1945) and Benny Goodman (1945-1946) before he finally joined Woody Herman's Second Herd in 1947. Getz became one of the fabled Four Brothers in Herman's band (along with fellow saxophonists Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward, and Serge Chaloff) and remained with the group for two years. After leaving Herman, Getz was (with the exception of some tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic) a leader for the rest of his life. Getz formed an exciting quartet in 1951 with guitar great Jimmy Raney, and the following year he played on guitarist Johnny Smith's big hit, "Moonlight in Vermont." A perennial poll-winner through the '50s, he lived in Europe from 1958-1960 then helped usher in the bossa nova era by recording Jazz Samba (featuring the hit song "Desafinado") with guitarist Charlie Byrd. Getz followed with a string of successful bossa nova-flavored albums with Gary McFarland's big band, Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfá and guitarist Laurindo Almeida before hitting it big in 1964 with Getz/Gilberto (a collaboration with Brazil's bossa nova pioneers Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, and featuring Gilberto's wife Astrud on the best-selling single "The Girl from Ipanema").
The '60s and '70s saw memorable collaborations between Getz and pianists Bill Evans (1964's But Beautiful), Chick Corea (1972's Captain Marvel) and Jimmy Rowles (1975's The Peacocks). He recorded a series of straight ahead recordings for the Concord label through the '80s featuring pianists Lou Levy, Mitchell Forman, Jim McNeely, and Kenny Barron. He was inducted into Down Beat's Jazz Hall of Fame in 1988. Getz's final recording, 1991's People Time, is an intimate duet session with pianist Barron. He died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991. In 1998, the Stan Getz Media Center and Library at the Berklee College of Music was dedicated through a donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation. (Milkowski)