All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Today the fusion movement has fallen on hard critical times. To wit. A 1987 up- dated edition of the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, first issued in the early '10s, includes not a single recorded reference to the music (although a Stan Getz performance of "Body and Soul" has been added, attesting not only to his enduring influence but to his lyrical essence, which 4s the theme of this collection). But in the early '70s, Getz's polished, smoothly-crafted romanticism seemed equally out of fashion. A new generation of Aquarian critics and fans were now arbitrating mainstream jazz tastes. The litmus test for older players was their willingness to consort with the various disciples of Bitches Brew. When Stan brought his new group (with Jack DeJohnette on drums) to the old London House in Chicago around 1971, rumors were the town was about to hear a "new" Getz. Some thought they did. I still think it was a rumor. Real integrity has only limited elasticity. A musician can evolve with a natural inner logic. But any player who regularly switches styles is probably a phony. As Getz entered the '70s, he was willing to experiment, but not "cross over." He would meet fusion half way and take its measure, but he wasn't interested in becoming an- other Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins. A musician who has any honesty can hardly do otherwise. He's tethered to his attack, his vocabulary, and most of all to his sound. They are his fate. In the case of Getz, it was his sound more than anything else that carried him through the '70s and brought him out intact into the '80s. Regardless of the environment, his sound was the boldest, most consistent signature of his work. From the perspective of a decade, it's Getz's traditional performance of "Willow Weep for Me" from those Montreux sessions that endures free from the scars of obsolete trends. It's a superior improvisation by any standard that becomes almost a piping aria at some points. The group was his working quartet at the time. Andy Laverne, a 29 year old Julliard grad, plays piano. Drummer Billy Hart had been with Getz four years by this time. And the newest member was bassist Mike Richmond, fresh from Jack DeJohnette's Directions. The group's percussionist, Efrain Toro, sits this one out. It's ironic that the two most dated sounding cuts -on this collection were originally welcomed as Getz at his contemporary best. The Captain Marvel LP was another chapter in the "new" Stan Getz saga of the '70s. It was well received. Down beat's Howard Mandel, now of National Public Radio, gave it four stars and a full complement of positive adjectives. Stan himself liked the music but thought the mix was too dense and heavy. The group was formed after Getz returned from Europe and went into the Rainbow Grill in Rockefeller Center. The title tune and "La Fiesta," probably Chick Corea's most famous number, were both written on Getz's commission for the group (as was "500 Miles High" also on the original LP). Corea and Getz were not new to one another, even at this early date. They had first recorded in 1967 on Getz's Sweet Rain LP for Verve. Shortly after this session, Corea and Stanley Clarke formed the first Return to Forever group. The Brazilian breakthrough of the early '60s was a laurel on which Getz could have probably sat for the rest of his career. Of course such stand pat- ism would have been unthinkable. But in 1975, Getz and Joao Gilberto reunited for The Best of Two Worlds LP. The album contained a variety of moods, but "Ligia" is Brazilian lyricism via American jazz at its loveliest. "Misty" comes from a Getz session that ultimately came out as Bob Brookmeyer and Friends. At one point during the date, Tony Bennett dropped in and recorded a spontaneous version of "Danny Boy," which sat on the shelf for 23 years. It finally came out last year on Tony Bennett / Jazz (CBS 450465) and virtually stole the album. "Misty" is a classic Getz ballad treatment. His improvisations are very circumspect. He prefers to let the melody speak for itself, offering unobtrusive elaborations along the way. Catch the way he rolls the "I'm as restless" part of the lyric up in a sweeping chromatic glissando on two occasions. Herbier Hancock, Gary Burton, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones all provide discreet support. "Lover Man" is an extended ballad exploration with Getz's working group of 1915. Along with three other extended pieces from the same session, it remained unreleased until 1982, well after Getz's departure from CBS. Clearly, ballads are special to Getz. "They intrigue me," he once .said. "I don't concentrate on any single aspect of the song not the lyrics, not the tempo. I like the romantic elements of easy melodic tunes, let the mood do what it wants. Everything comes from within." The lyricism of Stan Getz is a wondrously compel- ling power. In the spring of 1981, he was playing in an elegant but tiny and jam-packed Chicago spot called the Gold Star Sardine Bar. ("There's no cover, no minimum, and no sardines," I wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "unless you count the customers.") The crowd was a noisy one as Getz galloped through various middle and up tempo pieces. Then he switched off the microphone and blew the first notes of Billy Strayhom's "Blood Count." Within eight bars, all you could hear from the floor was the ice cubes melting in the glasses.
-John McDonough (Down Beat The Wall Street Journal)