Monday, August 12, 2019

Stan Getz - Getz at the Gate (Verve, 2019)

Back in the United States after three years spent abroad, saxophonist Stan Getz found that the homeland scene in flux with the exploration of Ornettte Coleman and John Coltrane proceeding along side traditional swing and hard bop. Though he had just recorded his famous saxophone with strings album Focus, this album features his working quartet of the period: Steve Kuhn on piano, John Neves on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. When the group is focused, the results are very impressive – Getz is at his most forceful as the band powers through the upbeat performances, but remains his emotional and thoughtful tone for the ballads. The band gets a particular kick from Roy Haynes who is on fire throughout this concert, fueling the band, trading phrases with the leader and taking explosive solos. The music is very well recorded for the time period and the selections are familiar, alternating between jazz standards and pop standards from films and Broadway shows. After the band introduction, they launch into “It's Alright With Me” which sets the foundation for the performances to follow with a crisp reading of the melody, followed by strong and ripe soloing from the leader, and Getz sounds clear headed and deeply engaged, moving briskly through the tune and leaving room for the rhythm section to take their turn with some sparkling piano and drums before he comes back to lead everyone to a rousing conclusion. Getz announces a feature for the piano, bass and drums unit to be the Miles Davis tune “So What,” though this is listed on the tracklist as John Coltrane's “Impressions.” Perhaps the latter was based on the former, leading to the confusion, regardless there is a lengthy trio improvisation with solo sections for each musician. Getz rejoins the group for the following track, one of the highlights of the set, a storming version of Sonny Rollins' “Airegin” that shows the saxophonist throwing caution into the wind and producing a daredevil saxophone solo over roiling rhythm backdrop. While hearing Getz with Haynes isn't exactly Coltrane with Elvin Jones, there is still an generous amount of power at play, also shown on the bebop chestnut “Woody ’N You.” Haynes got in on bebop at the ground floor with Charlie Parker, and he is particularly explosive here, and the leader is with him the whole way playing with a speed and alacrity that might surprise people that only see him as a swing and ballad player. The second set starts to drag a little bit, livened up by a bright and exciting performance of “It's You or No One” with the band swinging together grandly and breaking out into solo and duet settings that work quite well. The final two standards “52nd Street Theme” and “Jumpin' With Symphony Sid” are a bit overlong at nearly fifteen minutes each with lengthy solos for all of the rhythm section that even Haynes can't rescue, but on the whole the concert was quite successful and provide an interesting historical look into jazz in the early 1960's. Getz At The Gate - amazon.com

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