The Stan Getz Quartet ‘Getz at The Gate 1961’ 3LP/2CD (Verve) 3/5

In the same year he recorded the brilliant album, ‘Focus’, Stan Getz was recorded at The Village Gate with his quartet featuring the legendary drummer Roy Haynes, pianist Steve Kuhn and bassist John Neves. The recording is now available for the first time after being shelved for over 50 years. The music comes packaged as a 2CD or 3LP album with a beautiful booklet featuring never-before-published photos from Bob Parent taken the night of this recording, plus an essay by the acclaimed jazz writer Bob Blumenthal.

America’s embrace of Bossa Nova and Samba in 1962 could have been a reason for the shelving of this live album. His collaborations with Charlie Byrd, Luiz Bonfa, Astrud Gilberto and João Gilberto had taken off and the public was fully embracing the cool Bossa jazz that Getz was introducing to a wider American audience. With hit tracks such as ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ selling over a million copies, the public were becoming Latinized, and up until 1964, Stan Getz recorded over 5 albums with a Brazillian influenced sound.

A controversial figure, Stan Getz stood out as an original, with a warm lyrical sound that came associated with the cool jazz and bop era. His first recordings of a prolific career began in the early 1950s and he featured alongside many of the great jazz artists of the time including Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker and Oscar Peterson, whilst shaping his uniquely definable sound and approach towards the Tenor saxophone.

This recently discovered gem was destined to never see a release on the historic Verve record label, so it’s a real cause for celebration that another important recording has been issued and brought to fruition in style. With the same core line up as featured on his classic ‘Focus’ album, the quartet deliver a memorable evening performance at the legendary Village Gate with both original and standard material brought to the audience with an energy and sense of enjoyment that runs throughout the session.

Stan Getz and Roy Haynes work well together adding textures and a dynamic warmth to popular pieces such as ‘ Woody ‘N You’, ‘Stella By Starlight’, ‘Like Someone In Love’, ‘Impressions’ and ‘Airegin’. It’s difficult to pick a highlight from the 15 track album, but the quartet’s superb rendition of Gigi Gryce’s ‘Wildwood’ really excels. The album finishes with a 15-minute tribute to the legendary radio DJ presenter Symphony Sid, who was credited with introducing many great jazz recording to the New York airwaves. Stan Getz’s version of Lester Young’s 1945 composition, ‘Jumpin For Symphony Sid’, is a playful imaginative finale to the evening with some great playing and colourful antics as a gesture to the audience which probably included Symphony Sid if the clue was in the recording.

A great insight to an important period of Stan Getz’s career just before his connection with Bossa Nova, on an atmospheric late autumn night in Greenwich Village, put together with care and attention to detail and some fine photos and wording.

Mark Jones