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Cal Tjader & Stan Getz: Sextet

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Cal Tjader / Stan Getz

Sextet

Original Jazz Classics Remasters

2011 (1958)

The presence of Latin and Afro-Cuban enthusiast, vibraphonist Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
1925 - 1982
vibraphone
, has created a widespread misconception that Sextet was the album which sparked tenor saxophonist Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
's fascination with Brazilian music and, ultimately, bossa nova. The notion has, over the years, been reinforced by the inclusion of pianist Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
Vince Guaraldi
1928 - 1976
piano
's "Ginza Samba," whose theme statements were played over a samba beat, and which, as plain "Ginza," was the third track on side one of the album's original LP release. During the Stateside bossa nova craze of the early-to-mid-1960s, "Samba" was added opportunistically to the tune's title, and was sequenced as track one, side one on a rerelease of Sextet. It remains in prime position on this 24-bit remastered edition.

The Getz/bossa-gestation idea is, however, fanciful. Aside from the theme statements of "Ginza Samba," Sextet is set in the sumptuously lyrical but altogether "hotter," and firmly US-centric style with which Getz, under the guidance of his manager, Norman Granz, had become a major star by the late 1950s. Getz's Damascene moment came a few years later, via guitarist Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
1925 - 1999
guitar
. On a tour of Brazil in 1961, Byrd fell in love with bossa nova; once returned to the US, he sought out Getz, played him the LPs he had brought back from Brazil, and suggested they get together and record their own album in the style. Getz needed no persuading, instantly recognizing that he and bossa nova were made for each other. The result was Getz and Byrd's Jazz Samba (Verve, 1962), plus, in due course, its hit single "Desafinado" (and, over the years, Byrd's acrimonious, and finally successful, pursuit of Getz for a bigger slice of the royalties pie).

A case could, more credibly, be made for Sextet as an album which later reignited Getz's interest in recording with a vibraphonist, following Hamp And Getz (Clef), made with Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
in 1955. In 1964, at the height of the bossa boom, Gary Burton
Gary Burton
Gary Burton
b.1943
vibraphone
joined Getz's band, with which he toured and, in 1964, recorded the album Nobody Else But Me (only released, on Verve, 30 years later). Video footage of Getz and Tjader together does not exist, but Sextet's vibraphone connection provides an excuse to enjoy some wonderfully cheesy US TV footage of the Getz/Burton group (see the second YouTube clip below).

Getz and Tjader had known each other since the early 1950s. Tjader, as a member of pianist George Shearing
George Shearing
George Shearing
1919 - 2011
piano
's group, had been on the February 12, 1954 tour bus journey from Portland to Seattle, at the conclusion of which Getz was arrested for trying to score some heroin by attempting to rob a drug store. The two had long planned to record together, but the opportunity did not arise until their separate touring schedules coincidentally had them both in San Francisco on February 8, 1958, when they recorded Sextet for the Fantasy label. Granz, normally highly protective of his artists, allowed Getz to make the date because, the year before, Fantasy had loaned alto saxophonist Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
1924 - 1977
sax, alto
to Granz's Clef label for a quartet record with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
.

Getz and Tjader each brought two colleagues to the session. Tjader brought pianist Guaraldi and guitarist Eddie Duran
Eddie Duran
Eddie Duran
b.1925
guitar
. Getz brought two precociously talented 21 year olds, bassist Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
1936 - 1961
bass
and drummer Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
1936 - 2001
drums
. Both were on the cusp on stardom; LaFaro with pianist Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' trio, Higgins as a member of alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
's iconoclastic "free" group.

With a lineup like that, you would expect Sextet to make for prime listening, and, indeed, it does. Most OJC reissues include additional material in the shape of unreleased tracks or alternate takes. Sextet does not, because the session went so swimmingly (it was completed in around three hours) that legend holds that second takes were not necessary. Intriguingly, however, critic Ralph Gleason, who was in the studio for the last hour or so, wrote that "no tune, except two, had more than one take and even then it was a tossup as to which to use."

If second takes of such quality were recorded and were still extant in 2011, OJC's remaster would, presumably, include them. The likelihood is that the tapes containing them have been long lost. But no matter. Over the course of its 43 minutes' playing time, Sextet—though not the prologue to Getz's bossa nova—proffers ample delights.

Tracks: Ginza Samba; I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face; For All We Know; Crow's Nest; Liz-Anne; Big Bear; My Buddy.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Cal Tjader: vibraphone; Vince Guaraldi: piano; Eddie Duran: guitar; Scott LaFaro: bass; Billy Higgins: drums.

Style: Latin/World


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