Stan Getz - tenor sax; Gary Burton - vibraphone; Steve Swallow - bass; Joe Hunt - drums
A heroic figure in jazz, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz had other players standing in awe of his technique and robust sound on the instrument. A ferocious improviser who stood toe-to-toe with beboppers like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Sonny Stitt during the '50s, Getz pioneered the marriage of Brazilian music and jazz with a string of important recordings during the '60s. His appearance at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival came at the height of his bossa nova popularity on the strength of such best-selling releases as 1962's Jazz Samba, 1963's Getz/Gilberto (which introduced the wildly popular "Girl from Ipanema"), and 1964's live Getz Au Go Go.
They open their Sunday afternoon set at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival with the somber Dizzy Gillespie number "Con Alma," which is fueled by drummer Joe Hunt's Afro-Cuban flavored 6/8 pulse underneath. Getz's tenor is typically golden-toned and flowing on his reading of this oft-covered Gillespie vehicle. The tune is further enhanced by the presence of 22-year-old vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton. A product of Boston's Berklee College of Music, Burton forged a new direction on his instrument with his astounding four-mallet technique which, gave him the ability to comp pianistically with sophisticated chord voicings while also contributing incredible facile solos.
Next up is the seldom-covered Duke Ellington ballad, "Tonight I Shall Sleep (With a Smile on My Face)." Getz gives a heartfelt reading of this poignant, slightly melancholy number, 'singing' through his tenor while accompanied by Burton's glistening chordal voicings, Swallow's spare, fundamental bass lines, and Hunt's sensitive brushwork. As the piece picks up steam midway through, Hunt switches to sticks and generates a wave of interactive energy on the kit behind Getz's robust solo. From Ellingtonia to Jobim, the quartet then heads into the alluring samba, "Chega de Saudade" (often translated to "No More Blues" in English). The affecting number is met with claps of instant recognition by the adoring Newport crowd (indeed, that Vinicius de Moraes-Antonio Carlos Jobim tune which helped birth the bossa nova movement appeared on Getz's best-selling album from 1962, Big Band Bossa Nova,, and subsequently became a staple of Brazilian and American artists swept up in the bossa nova craze of the mid-'60s). Getz's tenor take on this iconic number is relaxed and sensual while Burton's shimmering vibes sound lends a luminous tone to the proceedings.
"Apple Tree" is a delicate ballad underscored by Burton's shimmering vibes. Getz testifies here in warm, expressive tones reminiscent of his tenor hero and main influence, Lester Young. "Waltz for a Lovely Wife" is a Phil Woods composition given a tender, whimsical treatment by Getz and his crew. Burton's solo on this buoyant, midtempo swinger is outstanding. In introducing a feature for the band's 22-year-old vibraphone phenom, Getz tells the Sunday afternoon crowd, "As a matter of fact, he's so young… We were originally supposed to work here tonight but because Gary would have to miss 'Lassie' and 'Mister Ed,' because of that, George Wein was good enough to get a replacement for us tonight." And then he adds, "The replacement just landed over there," pointing to the helicopter carrying the evening's headliner, Frank Sinatra. Humor aside, Burton's unaccompanied, harmonically sophisticated treatment of "My Funny Valentine" is a stunning showcase of his sheer virtuosity on his instrument. (Two years later, Burton would lead his own trailblazing group at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival.)
Getz next introduces the prolific Brazilian composer and bossa nova pioneer Carlos Lyra, who entertains the Newport crowd with affecting vocals sung in Portuguese and his accomplished nylon string guitar accompaniment. Lyra opens with "Quem Quiser Encontrar O Amor," which the saxophonist and his band join in on with gusto. He also performs an unaccompanied rendition of his poignant ballad "Lugar Bonito" before the band rejoins him on his buoyantly infectious samba "Aruanda" to close the set on a high note.
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-winning 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)