Stan Getz and Cal Tjader ‘Sextet’ (Original Jazz Classics/Universal) 4/5

Both tenorist Stan Getz and vibist Cal Tjader had just turned thirty when this album from 1958 was made and they were already fully matured musicians who would enjoy unprecedented success as solo artists during the 1960s. This has all the lightness of touch and sunny disposition one might expect from a classic West coast recording of the era and moreover featuring an outstanding line-up of artists including a young Billy Higgins on drums, Vince Guaraldi on piano and a then unknown Scott La Faro on bass (pre-Bill Evans trio by just a year or so). By fat the best well-known number is the marathon eleven minute plus ‘Ginza samba’ which is a precursor of sorts to the extended explorations of Brazilian music that Getz in particular would undertake during the following decade. Of particular note here is the fine guitar work of Eddie Duran and one wonders whether this pairing actually inspired either Getz, or more likely his producers to unite Getz and Charlie Byrd for the first of the US-based bossa nova albums. Almost as popular is the Tjader composition, the waltz ‘Liz-Anne’, which has become something of a standard. Getz and Tjader combine wonderfully on the mid-tempo blues ‘Crow’s nest’ while there is fine ensemble playing on the ballads ‘For all we know’ and ‘My buddy’. Getz clearly enjoyed the format of rhythm section plus vibes and returned to a slightly pared down version in the mid-1960s when touring with Gary Burton and recording a well received live album in Paris with him. Tjader for his part focused on a plethora of Latin rhythms during the 1960s and struck up a fruitful partnership with pianist Eddie Palmieri. This album marks a watershed in both leaders careers.

Tim Stenhouse