Stan Getz - tenor sax; Gary Burton - vibraphones; Gene Cherico - bass; Joe Hunt - drums; Guest artists:; Astrud Gilberto - vocals; Chet Baker - trumpet, vocals; Phil Urso - piano
In 1964, the golden-toned tenor saxophonist Stan Getz was still riding high on the massive success of his Jazz Samba, an influential album he recorded in 1962 with guitarist Charlie Byrd which helped trigger the bossa nova craze that swept the United States in the pre-Beatles '60s. Getz followed that success with a string of bossa nova albums including Big Band Bossa Nova with Gary McFarland and Jazz Samba Encore with Brazilian guitarist-composer Luiz Bonfa. But it was 1963's Getz/Gilberto, his collaboration with Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, that put him over the top as a recording artist on the strength of the hit single, "The Girl from Ipanema," sung with breathy allure by Brazilian vocalist Astrud Gilberto. By the time of his performance at the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival, the sound of that insinuating bossa nova was still fresh and deeply ingrained in the consciousness of American music fans, lending a sense of heightened anticipation to the proceedings. Getz was accompanied on this July 3rd appearance at Newport by veteran bassist Gene Cherico, drummer Joe Hunt and the 21-year-old vibraphone sensation Gary Burton, who had previously played with George Shearing and who would become a bandleader in his own right (and Newport Jazz Festival regular) beginning in 1967.
They kick off their Friday evening set the buoyantly swinging Phil Woods composition "Waltz for a Lovely Wife," which Getz had recorded in March that year with this same group for the Verve recording, Nobody Else But Me, which was actually not issued by Polygram until 1994. Getz's tenor work is typically sonorous here, with perhaps a little more bite than fans of his more subdued bossa nova outings are accustomed to. Burton's sparkling four-mallet solo is a revelation here, flowing and full of hip harmonic ideas, while the swinging tandem of Hunt and Cherico capably holds down the fort. Next up is a sublime interpretation of the seldom-covered Duke Ellington ballad "Tonight I Shall Sleep (With a Smile on my Face)" from the mid '40s. Getz then blows with gusto on the jaunty "Stan's Blues," a freewheeling midtempo swinger co-composed by Getz and fellow saxophonist Gigi Gryce that sounds remarkably similar to John Coltrane's "Bessie's Blues," which had been recorded in April of 1964 and released on the Impulse album, Crescent. (Getz himself would record this walking blues number at his Carnegie Hall performance from October of 1964 with Brazilian guitarist-composer Joao Gilberto). Burton is also highlighted on a dazzling unaccompanied vibes solo in the middle of the piece while drummer Hunt engages in some spirited trading of fours with Getz near the end.
Burton contributes "The Singing Song," the rhythmically complex, harmonically quirky composition that Getz had introduced on his Getz Au Go Go album, a follow up to his massively successful Getz/Gilberto album from 1963, which introduced Astrud Gilberto singing the bossa nova hit "The Girl From Ipanema." The sublime yet slightly melancholy "Sweet Rain," a Mike Gibbs original every bit as poignant and dreamy as Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," is delivered with a velvety touch by Getz and his crew. (Burton would later include an affecting version of the tune on his 1967 landmark recording, Duster, and Getz would use it as the title track of his own recording that year for Verve).
Burton's "Six-Nix-Pix-Flix" is a lively 6/8 number that also appeared on Getz Au Go Go). The rhythm tandem is particularly interactive here while Getz's blows pungent lines over the top and Burton comps pianistically with four mallets. The tenor man then brings out vocalist, Astrud Gilberto, who entertains the appreciative Newport crowd with her sensuous reading of Jobim's "The Girl From Ipanema" and the Vinicius de Moraes/Carlos Lyra tune "Eu e Voce," one of the most frequently recorded numbers in the bossa nova repertoire. Getz's smoky-toned tenor is golden on both bossa nova numbers.
Special guest Chet Baker, Getz's erstwhile partner from the early '50s, appears next, blowing warm but urgent trumpet tones on a swinging rendition of George Gershwin's "But Not For Me." This Newport appearance marked something of a homecoming for Baker, who had been residing in Europe the previous five years (including a year and a half stint in an Italian jail on a drug charge). A confirmed junkie, Baker nevertheless sounds at the peak of his powers here, also contributing some buttery smooth vocals following a particularly brilliant tenor solo by the great Getz. Baker also turns in a touching interpretation of Dizzy Gillespie's somber ballad, "I Waited for You," which has Phil Urso as guest on piano (primarily a tenor saxophonist, Urso had replaced Getz in the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1951). Getz sits this one out, placing the spotlight squarely on his old pal Chet. Getz and Baker close out the set in exuberant fashion trading heated solos on the uptempo burner "Little Willie Leaps," a bristling bop anthem penned by Miles Davis in 1947 during his second stint in Charlie Parker's group and which appeared on his own first recording as a leader that same year. Getz and Baker do their best Bird & Diz interpretation on this sizzling set-closer.
A perennial figure at the Newport Jazz Festival, Getz would return to Rhode Island several times over the next decade, before George Wein moved the whole clambake to New York City in 1972.
Born on February 2, 1927 in Philadephia, Getz came up idolizing Count Basie's star tenor saxophonist Lester Young. As a teenager he worked with trombonist Jack Teagarden before stints in the mid 1940s in big bands led by Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. He made his recording debut with Goodman's band in 1946 but came to prominence in Woody Herman's Second Herd from 1947 to 1949, and was featured playing alongside fellow saxophonists Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward and Serge Chaloff on the Jimmy Giuffre tune "Four Brothers." After leaving Herman's band, Getz was a featured played on Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic revue before branching out in 1950 to lead his own quartet, which featured pianist Al Haig, bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Roy Haynes. Another edition of the Getz quartet, formed later that year, featured a young pianist named Horace Silver, who would become a star in his own right during the 1960s.
In 1951, Getz forged a musical partnership with the great bop guitarist Jimmy Raney and the following year he supported guitarist Johnny Smith on his biggest hit, "Moonlight in Vermont," the title track of Smith's successful Roulette recording. Through the remainder of the '50s, he had significant encounters with trombonists Bob Brookmeyer and J.J. Johnson, pianist Oscar Peterson, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, vibraphonist Cal Tjader and others, including a whole host of French, Danish and Swedish musicians during his extended stay in Europe from 1958-1960. Upon returning to the States, Getz recorded the challenging Focus, a big band outing with compositions and arrangements by Eddie Sauter. But it was 1962's Jazz Samba that brought him wider recognition beyond the jazz cognoscenti. And his followup, 1963's Getz/Gilberto (with the hit single, "The Girl from Ipanema") made the tenor saxophonist an international star.
Getz had memorable outings through the '60s with Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Jim Hall, and in the '70s he recorded such landmarks as 1972's Captain Marvel (with a quartet featuring pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Tony Williams) and 1975's The Peacocks (with pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Elvin Jones) while also investigating fusion on 1977's Another World and 1978's Children of the World (both featuring an electrified quartet with keyboardist Andy Laverne, bassist Mike Richmond and drummer ). Getz returned to an acoustic quartet through the '80s (most notably with pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis). His final outing was a two-CD set of duets with pianist Barron entitled People Time, recorded in March, 1991, just three months before the saxophonist's death on June 6, 1991. (Milkowski)