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Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer: Recorded Fall 1961

Stan Getz returned to the United States in 1961 after two years of living in Denmark and playing throughout Europe. That fall, while preparing for Focus, which was to become his favorite personal album, the tenorist went into the studio to recreate some of the quintet magic he and valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer had produced in the mid-1950s. In fact, the group had recorded earlier in the year with Scott LaFaro on bass, but unhappy with his own playing, Getz refused to release the results. Due to LaFaro’s untimely death that summer, Getz enlisted John Neves to partner with pianist Steve Kuhn and drummer Roy Haynes for this subsequent session, Recorded Fall 1961.

It’s easy to see why Getz must have been pleased with the effort this time. His lines are relatively cliche-free and his fabulous tone, masterful technique and effortless swing are on display throughout. Brookmeyer, one of the most individualistic of improvisers, once again shows himself to be an ideal mate for Getz, combining a composer’s inventiveness with a Kansas City-bred earthiness and sense of swing. The trombonist also composed three tunes-“Minuet Circa ’61,” the ballad “Who Could Care?” and “Thump, Thump, Thump”-to go with his arrangements of a pair of standards and Buck Clayton’s “Love Jumped Out.” Getz liked the rhythm section so much that he continued to use them for his live engagements. Although Recorded Fall 1961 was released soon after its completion, this remastered reissue is part of Verve’s Master Edition series.

Nearly 30 years later, and a year before his death in 1991, Getz was still playing near the top of his form. With his cancer in remission, he was touring Europe with a quartet that included pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Alex Blake and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Synthesizer players Eddie Del Barrio and Frank Zottoli augmented the quartet on selections from Getz’s then recently released Apasionado, which featured Del Barrio’s electronically enhanced arrangements. Although some critics accused Del Barrio’s charts of being excessively pop-oriented, they did provide Getz with a congenial setting for his free-flowing lyricism. And at the Munich concert that comprises the first part of The Final Concert Recording, Getz imbues the five selections with his trademark passion and beauty despite a slight tendency to rely too heavily on some of his favorite melodic patterns.

The other nine tracks on the two discs that constitute The Final Concert Recording exemplify quintessential small-group Getz. Digging in on the pop standards “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “On a Slow Boat to China,” as well as the jazz compositions “Seven Steps to Heaven,” “Blood Count” (a Getz favorite), Barron’s “Voyage,” Thad Jones’ “Yours and Mine,” Johnny Mandel’s “El Cajon” and Benny Carter’s “People Time,” the quartet simply sparkles. Blake and Carrington provide a sometimes powerful, sometimes quietly urgent underpinning for Getz and Barron, and both soloists play with the confidence and polish expected of such consummate professionals. Although Barron had worked frequently with Getz, this occasion seems to have been particularly inspirational for him as he’s consistently all over the piano in an especially impressive display of invention. It seems fitting that Getz’s last recording, made a few months later, would feature just the two of them.

Originally Published