Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Review: Stan Getz - With Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida

Stan Getz, in the early 1960’s, was displaying a truly prodigious work rate; three weeks after recording the brilliant ‘Jazz Samba Encore’, and only two days before he would record the seminal and massive commercial hit ‘Getz/Gilberto’ (that would launch Astrud Gilberto and ‘The Girl From Ipanema onto the international stage), he was recording even more bossa nova sessions.  Possibly trying to keep the momentum going or stockpile the music for future release, producer Creed Taylor was getting in as many Brazillian musicians, and sessions for them, with the golden-boy of the moment Getz. Despite the speed of production though, Taylor and Getz managed to maintain an impressively strong and consistent quality of music throughout the whole commercial bossa nova period.

Continuing the practice of recruiting one star guitarist for one session, this time Getz was partnered with Laurindo Almeida, who served as the primary composer as well as the assigned rhythm and solo foil. Also present are a mix of American players, with Steve Kuhn on piano and George Duvivier on bass, and Brazillian musicians, with Edison Machado on drums and Luis Parga and Jose Paulo on percussion.

From the second Getz and Almeida jump in with ‘Minina Moca’ the party is in full swing with music that is impossible to listen to while sitting still, and doesn’t let up. All the performances on this album are top-rank, but no-one is showing off here, the music is one of great beauty and is totally relaxed, which just adds to its immense charm. Almeida doesn’t like to improvise, so his soloing sticks rigidly to the tunes, while Jobim’s ‘Outra Vez’ is a shining example of Getz using his musical freedom for effortless lyrical charm which contrasts nicely with his partner’s more anchored playing.

‘Samba da Sahra’ is the epitome of the enduring fresh appeal of this music, full of easy strumming and soft rhythm, while Getz adds sultry heat to everything he touches. ‘Maracatu-Too’, the album closer, even manages to shift the tempo and pace up higher and end the party on a high.

Almeida had first introduced Brazillian sounds to the jazz crowd years before, most notably with Bud Shank (check out the wonderful ‘Brazilliance’), and unfortunately history has seen fit to lower his profile than he deserves. At the time, this highly passionate and electric feeling recording went unreleased, for reasons that only people familiar with marketing phrases might understand. And when it finally got a release, it was relegated to status of ‘more Getz, from the vaults’. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Many sessions like these might have been made to cash in on the boom at the time, but not only did these two masterful players help create this boom, we should be grateful to them that they did record so much stunning and desirable music.

Possibly one of Getzs’ finest bossa recordings with a hugely under-rated guitarist and composer, this is top of the league music that deserves to be sought out. Treat yourself now and find out what the world missed the first time around.


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