Getz Leans In

No one ever accused Stan Getz of phoning in a solo. Not infrequently, however, he gave the appearance of detachment as he played while surveying the audience with eyes wide open. When he closed those cool blue eyes and leaned into a solo, something special was likely to happen. In Italy in 1961, cameras caught an instance of Getz fully committed. Video of the event surfaced not long ago. The tune is Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody ‘n You.” Ray Brown is on bass, Ed Thigpen on drums. The pianist is Lou Levy, Getz’s friend since their days in Woody Herman’s Second Herd and always one of his favorite playing partners. The audio track has a couple of dropouts, but your ear will fill them in.

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  1. says

    Wow! Stan played brilliantly here. On the surface this is sounding all so super-smooth, some would even call it “slick”. BUT, when you really listen closely, you can hear Stan’s incomparable sense for melody and rhythm. At this very solo he reached that 10th step of improvisation (Lee Konitz), the point where you create your own melody over a given song structure.
    Stan was completely in it here, one of his most flawless solos ever. The band sounds perfectly integrated. Lou Levy’s contribution was clearly over, that’s at least my impression. Stan started another chorus for getting the level up again as he intended to trade fours. It would have been musically quite rude to let Ed Thipgen take over right after Lou’s exquisite solo.
    The “detachment” you are talking about, Doug, is mostly happening then, when there are distractions like moving cameras or intrusive photographers. On the other hand was Stan a star who didn’t appreciate those non-musical accompanying symptoms.

  2. Denis Ouellet says

    We can be thankful for these musical videos.
    They only heightened the fact that these musicians were masters.
    But I guess for all of us jazz fans that’s pretty obvious.
    Clearly they are playing and creating on another level.
    There is another video version of Woody’n You
    with Ray Brown, Ed Thighpen but this time with Jan Johansson on piano
    played at a JATP concert in Dusseldorf just a year earlier in April 1960.

  3. Gary Chapman says

    Detached, engaged, whatever, this is another of a millions examples of one of the greatest melodic be-bop minds at work, spinning flawless lines that normal people labor their entire lives to acquire. Getz did at least this for another three decades, and was so consistently great that anyone not paying close attention could take this sort of genius for granted. One of a handful of the greatest linear thinkers, ever. You can never plan on mastery like this.

  4. Jan Stevens says

    Seeing Stan with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen makes me wonder whether Oscar Peterson was out on tour with them in Europe at the time,(that was his rhythm section) and that Getz was able to “borrow” them for a gig or two. What a dream team.

  5. says

    Here’s the secret:
    The first thing Stan does when he comes on stage is to move himself (bringing along his microphone) very near to Ray Brown who then plays some time groove that makes one of the greatest — Stan Getz — play his best.
    In my humble opinion…

  6. says

    Lou and Stan indeed had a good relationship musically. And I think they got along personally, also, at least that’s what LL told me! I was present at several get-togethers, 2 of them at Stan’s various homes in Malibu (when Stan already was battling the cancer that eventually felled him), where they played together and we all shared Stan’s sorta macrobiotic diet lunch. What a PLEASURE!
    As I remember, Stan at one time complained to Lou, “…You like Al Cohn’s playing better than mine,” to which Lou replied, “Well, don’t you?”