Stan Getz Quintet: Interpretations #2

The saxophonist is joined by Bob Brookmeyer, John Williams, Teddy Kotick and Frank Isola in inventive variations on standards in the early 50s

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During the 1950s Stan Getz occasionally worked with trumpeters Dick Sherman, Tony Fruscella, Conte Candoli or Chet Baker but his most regular associate at that time was Bob Brookmeyer. They worked extensively at Boston’s Hi-Hat as well as Zardi’s and The Tiffany in Los Angeles and their quintet was one of the most inventive small groups of the era.

Jimmy Giuffre said in a 1961 Downbeat article “That band is my favorite of all the jazz groups I’ve ever heard.” Years later Bob Brookmeyer was surprised when I mentioned this to him – “Jimmy said that? Bless him.”

Their work together has been constantly reissued and 20 years ago Definitive Records released The Complete 1953-1954 Quintet Studio Recordings on DRCD 11264. Definitive made the bizarre decision to highlight Brookmeyer as the leader, which would surprise Bob and Stan if they were still around. There was also a live performance from November 1954 which found the quintet at its very best – Stan Getz At The Shrine (Verve 513 752-2).

Interpretations #2 and #1 is a fine example of what the quintet had to offer. It benefits from the presence of John Williams, who was one of the finest pianists of his generation. He had a highly rhythmic approach to accompaniment, reminiscent of Horace Silver, but sadly he dropped out of the jazz scene in the late 50s. His good friend Frank Isola was a sympathetic drummer with a light touch that was perfect for the quintet, but just like Williams his stay in the jazz spotlight was a brief one. His last recording was on Mose Allison’s Back Country Suite in 1957.

The horns are, of course, in fine form, drawing inspiration from the contrapuntal exchanges that were such a notable feature of their work together.

Discography
(1) Minor Blues; Fascinating Rhythm; (2) I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Tangerine; (3) Love And The Weather; Spring Is Here; Crazy Rhythm; (1) Willow Weep For Me; (2) The Nearness Of You; Pot Luck; (3) It Don’t Mean A Thing; The Varsity Drag; (2) Pot Luck (alt) (77.53)
(1) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb); Getz (ts); John Williams (p); Teddy Kotick (b); Frank Isola (d). Los Angeles, 15 August 1953. (2) as (1) Los Angeles, 22 August 1953. (3) as (1) Los Angeles, 27 July 1953.
Poll Winners Records PWR 27280