The Smoothest Operator

The Smoothest Operator

by Stan Getz


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In this attractively priced, good-sounding four-CD box, JSP does a decent job. Covering just six years in Stan Getz's half-century career, the label focuses on Getz's earliest period as a bebop bandleader (at the ripe old age of 19 after already playing with Jack Teagarden, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman) and into the beginning of his stature as a true jazz star with Norman Granz's Clef label. Over 98 cuts, which include some of his now legendary Roost recordings, listeners journey through Getz's unique abilities as a true stylist. No matter what he played -- as this material attests -- he had the ability to create music that walked a very fine line between intense artistic imagination and creativity and commercial viability, without sacrificing his soul. Getz may have been an acolyte of Charlie Parker, but before that he had been a true disciple of Lester Young's playing. He integrated both approaches and found his own sound on the tenor: warm, full, and lyrical with incredible speed and dexterity. This box, with better than decent sound, reveals how quickly Getz's development as a leader happened -- even though during many of these sides Getz was still under employ to other bandleaders like Goodman and Woody Herman. The first two tracks on disc one ("Opus de Bop," "And the Angels Swing") are under the name the Bebop Boys -- Getz, Curly Russell, Max Roach, and Hank Jones -- who became by tracks three and four ("Running Water" and "Don't Worry About Me") the Stan Getz Quartet. Yes, race may have played its part in this, but it is also true that Getz was the musical equal of every man in that band. In any case, disc one also includes the legendary "Five Brothers" recording with Allen Eager, Brew Moore, Zoot Sims, and Al Cohn, who also did "Battle of the Saxes" and "Four and One Moore." Disc one nears its end in 1949 with his signature solo on "Pennies from Heaven" as a member of the Al Haig Sextet with conguero Carlos Vidal, bassist Gene Ramey, and guitarist Jimmy Raney. Disc two was all recorded in 1950 under the revolving door known as the Stan Getz Quartet. Some of the players who played under that moniker included Horace Silver (though it was Silver's trio Getz had invited to record with him in New York), Roy Haynes, Tommy Potter, Percy Heath, Walter Bolden, and Joe Calloway. The disc opens with "Stardust," featuring Junior Parker on vocals, and includes thoroughly lovely renditions of "cool" jazz standards such as "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Imagination," "You Go to My Head," and "Out of Nowhere." Disc three begins and ends in 1951 and covers Getz's first European period, with saxophonist Lars Gullin as a worthy foil with pianist Bengt Hallberg's Swedish All Stars. There are seven sides from Sweden, all of them curious and interesting, even if some of them are a bit wooden. It also covers the early live sides in Boston with Haig, Raney, Teddy Kotick, and Tiny Kahn, but not before another session in New York with Silver's group, this time with bassist Leonard Gaskin; "Melody Express," "Yvette," "The Song Is You," and "Wildwood" all come from August of 1951 in New York. The final disc in this fine collection continues in Boston in October of 1951 at the Storyville club, where Getz netted two LPs' worth of live material. There are some rather workmanlike sides of Getz playing with the guitarist Johnny Smith in 1952 here as well. They account for eight tracks, including the hit "Where or When," but all of them can be skipped to proceed on to the set's concluding sides cut for Norman Granz and his Clef label as the Stan Getz Quintet. The lineup included Raney, pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Frank Isola. These final tracks include Getz's hit versions of "Stella by Starlight," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Body and Soul," "Stars That Fell on Alabama" (a cut Getz first played with Teagarden and recorded earlier himself, but this is the definitive read of it by him), and "Lover Come Back to Me." Other than the Johnny Smith sides -- on which Getz is terrific, by the way -- most all of this music remains compelling, engaging, and sometimes even awe-inspiring. For the money, this is a fine collection for any serious jazz fan interested in filling out his Getz shelf, or even for the enthusiastic beginner who has gone back to the bop and cool eras, as there is adequate documentation of session dates and players, though Drew Kent's liner notes -- written to fit the format of these booklets, no doubt -- are a bit sketchy in places.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/28/2007
Label: Jsp Records
UPC: 0788065904326
catalogNumber: 943
Rank: 132161


Disc 1

  1. Opus de Bop
  2. And the Angels Swing
  3. Running Water
  4. Don't Worry 'Bout Me
  5. Pardon My Bop
  6. As I Live and I Bop
  7. Interlude in Bebop
  8. Bopelbath
  9. Pinhead
  10. Diaper Pin
  11. Frosty
  12. Battleground
  13. Four and One Moore
  14. Five Brothers
  15. Battle of the Saxes
  16. Stan Gets Along
  17. Stan's Mood
  18. Slow
  19. Fast
  20. Skull Buster
  21. Ante Room
  22. Poop Deck
  23. Pennies from Heaven
  24. Indian Summer
  25. Long Island Sound
  26. Mar-CIA
  27. Preservation
  28. Crazy Chords

Disc 2

  1. Stardust
  2. Goodnight My Love
  3. There's a Small Hotel
  4. Too Marvelous for Words
  5. I've Got You Under My Skin
  6. What's New
  7. Intoit
  8. You Stepped out of a Dream
  9. My Old Flame
  10. The Lady in Red
  11. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
  12. On the Alamo
  13. Gone with the Wind
  14. Yesterdays
  15. Sweetie Pie
  16. You Go to My Head
  17. Hershey Bar
  18. Tootsie Roll
  19. Strike Up the Band
  20. Imagination
  21. For Stompers Only (Navy Blue)
  22. Out of Nowhere
  23. 'S Wonderful
  24. Penny
  25. Split Kick
  26. It Might as Well Be Spring
  27. The Best Thing for You

Disc 3

  1. S'cool Boys
  2. Ack, Värmeland du Sköna
  3. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
  4. I Only Have Eyes for You
  5. Prelude to a Kiss
  6. Night and Day
  7. Don't Get Scared
  8. Flamingo
  9. Melody Express
  10. Yvette
  11. Potter's Luck
  12. The Song Is You
  13. Wildwood
  14. Thou Swell
  15. The Song Is You
  16. Mosquito Knees
  17. Pennies from Heaven
  18. Move
  19. Parker 51
  20. Hershey Bar

Disc 4

  1. Rubberneck
  2. Signal
  3. Everything Happens to Me
  4. Jumpin' with Symphony Sid
  5. Yesterdays
  6. Budo
  7. Wildwood
  8. Where or When
  9. Tabu
  10. Moonlight in Vermont
  11. Jaguar
  12. Sometimes I'm Happy
  13. Stars Fell on Alabama
  14. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  15. Tenderly
  16. Stella by Starlight
  17. Time on My Hands
  18. 'Tis Autumn
  19. The Way You Look Tonight
  20. Lover Come Back to Me
  21. Body and Soul
  22. Stars Fell on Alabama
  23. You Turned the Table on Me

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Stan Getz   Primary Artist,Tenor Saxophone
Walter Bishop   Piano
Allen Eager   Tenor Saxophone
Haig   Piano
Duke Jordan   Piano
Brew Moore   Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy Raney   Guitar
Max Roach   Drums
Horace Silver   Piano
Tony Aless   Piano
Leonard Gaskin   Bass,Bass Guitar
Sanford Gold   Piano
Lars Gullin   Baritone Saxophone
Bengt Hallberg   Piano
Stan Levey   Drums
Tommy Potter   Bass,Bass Guitar
Earl Swope   Trombone
Don Lamond   Drums
Johnny Smith   Guitar
Teddy Kotick   Bass,Bass Guitar
Gene Ramey   Bass,Bass Guitar
Eddie Safranski   Bass,Bass Guitar
Percy Heath   Bass,Bass Guitar
Cohn   Tenor Saxophone
Walter Bishop   Piano
Walter Bolden   Drums
Bob Carter   Bass
Bill Crow   Bass,Bass Guitar
Epstein   Tenor Saxophone
Norman Faye   Trumpet
Morey Feld   Drums
Roy Haynes   Drums
Frank Isola   Drums
Tiny Kahn   Drums
Clyde Lombardi   Bass,Bass Guitar
Jack Noren   Drums
Mert Oliver   Bass,Bass Guitar
Junior Parker   Vocals
Charles Perry   Drums
Zoot Sims   Tenor Saxophone
Carlos Vidal   Conga
Joe Calloway   Bass
Yngve Akerberg   Bass,Bass Guitar
Kenneth Fagerlund   Drums
Dillion "Curley" Russel   Bass
Gunnar Johnson   Bass,Bass Guitar
Bob Carter   Bass Guitar
Drifting Johnny Smith   Guitar
Zoot Sims & His Five Brothers   Tenor Saxophone
Henry Jones   Piano
Sandford Gold   Piano
Jack Noren   Drums
Henry 'Hank' Jones   Piano
Dillon 'Curley' Russell   Bass Guitar
Joe Calloway   Bass Guitar

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