The discovery of an unissued live set, recorded 58 years ago by Verve at a venue it was using sporadically, and hence had the measure of acoustically, would in itself be an event. Add to that that this is a rare snapshot of Stan Getz on dazzling form after his return from a long sojourn in Scandinavia and a matter of months before he moved into bossa nova territory, with a coruscating state-of-the-art rhythm section, and it becomes an essential addition to the Getz canon.
The drive and energy comes from the interplay between Getz and Roy Haynes. The drummer has always described himself as “an old-fashioned swing drummer”, but here he shows that his ability to drive a hard-swinging band is balanced by rhythmic invention of the highest order.
The opening ‘It’s All Right With Me’ takes no prisoners and announces the uncompromising approach of the band. But the ballads draw out the lyrical side of Getz that had flourished in Scandinavia, and this is where Steve Kuhn and John Neves shine.
Haynes had spent five years not long before this as the drummer in Sarah Vaughan’s trio and he wisely provides deft and unobtrusive support as Kuhn prods and probes at the harmonies and inspires Getz to some of his most overly emotional playing – notably on Harold Arlen’s ‘When The Sun Comes Out’ or Alec Wilder’s ‘Where Do You Go?’.
Yet every track on this issue has something to commend it, and it’s good that Verve have decided to release the entire recording in order. The second set has more ballad fare, but Getz and Haynes again spar with each other on a muscular and energetic ‘52nd St Theme’.
For a live recording of the day it is fine in quality terms and really allows us to share in a rare and undocumented period of Getz’s career.
This review originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Jazzwise. To enjoy reviews of the best new albums and reissues every month, subscribe to Jazzwise