JJ 06/92: Stan Getz – Captain Marvel

Thirty years ago Richard Palmer welcomed the CD reissue of a 'seminal artistic achievement of towering brilliance'. First published in Jazz Journal June 1992

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I can’t imagine any Getz admirer failing to jump about in excite­ment at the news that this session is available once more. Captain Marvel is one of Stan’s half dozen greatest records: an artistic achievement of towering brilliance, seminal in terms of jazz in general and Getz’s latterday career in particular.

Stan’s embrace of electronics and then contemporary material was every bit as important as Miles Davis’s forays into fusion, and to this writer a good deal more lovely on the ear too. At the same time, these sides evinced a new and fer­ocious energy in his playing and launched the glittering decade he was to spend with CBS.

With the brief (2 minutes 27) exception of Lush Life, all the tunes are by Corea. I don’t believe Corea has written anything finer than this ‘suite’: His range, both as writer and player, had greatly increased, and while the original plangent lyricism remained in full, it was now fleshed-out and inten­sified via the masterly grasp of exotic lines and phrasing, rockish figures and tempestuously excit­ing rhythms.

The other four musicians responded in a way that almost beggars description. Williams’s drumming is just phenomenal – a tidal-wave of sound that also manages to be sensitive, apposite and intensely alert at all times; Clarke’s bass is rock-solid, serpentinely creative and daringly innovative all at once; and Moreira is both extraordinary and exactly right as the ‘X factor’.

Stan is sublime throughout: if I pick out La Fiesta for its amalgam of grace and heat and the title track for its melange of melodic tenderness and rhythmic ferocity, it is merely that I play these tracks more often than the others; the latter abound equally in riches, the Strayhorn snippet included.

All Stan’s work here is organically of a piece with his fifties work and the bossa nova records, but there is a different kind of imagination, virility and sheer fire present too – this is the ideal disc to play to any remaining Flat-Earthists who still label Getz ‘cool’, and no remotely serious collection should be without it.

Discography
La Fiesta; Five Hundred Miles High; Captain Marvel; Times Lie; Lush Life; Day Waves (43.45)
Stan Getz (ts); Chick Corea (elp); Stanley Clarke (b); Tony Williams (d); Airto Moreira (per). NYC, March 3, 1972.
(Sony Columbia 468412)