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Music Review: Stan Getz/Cal Tjader – Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet [Remastered]

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Stan Getz and Cal Tjader were two of the younger superstars of jazz when they decided to record an album together during 1958.

Stan Getz (1927-1991) is remembered as one of the premier jazz saxophonists of the second half of the 20th century. He first came to prominence during the late 1940s, as a member of Woody Herman’s band. By the mid-1950s, he had stepped out on his own as the leader of various small groups.

A practitioner of what is known as bebop and cool jazz; Getz would continue to produce creative and commercially successful music until his death at the age of 64. Despite his storied jazz career, today he may be best remembered for his 1964 hit single with vocalist Astrud Gilberto, “The Girl From Ipanema.” It would win the 1965 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Callen Radcliffe Tjader Junior (1925-1982) came to prominence as a drummer for the Dave Brubeck Octet, following his military service during the Second World War. He would go on to play with George Shearing during the early 1950s. By the mid 1950s, he had made the vibes his instrument of choice and was leading his own groups. He quickly became a leading figure in the fusion of Afro-Cuban music and jazz.

Tjader and Getz had traveled in the same circles and so in 1958, decided to record an album together. They were joined by pianist Vince Guaraldi, guitarist Eddie Duran, bassist Scott Lafaro, and drummer Billy Higgins; and so the Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet was born.

Their 1958 release has now been reissued as a part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters Series. As with the other releases in the series, the sound has been remastered and comes across clear and pristine. The original liner notes are included, as is an extended essay, which gives a nice history of the album and music. The only major difference is the lack of bonus tracks. Guitarist Eddie Duran is the only surviving musician and he has stated there were no second takes, no rehearsals, and no additional material. The seven songs that comprised the original album was the entire output of this group.

The opening track is an 11-minute version of Guaraldi’s “Ginza Samba.” It was a perfect choice to fit the styles of Getz and Tjader. It is long enough for Tjader, Getz, Duran and Guaraldi to all step forward and take solos.

Tjader would contribute three original compositions. ”Crow’s Nest” would contain bassist Scott Lafaro’s only solo, but it would be one of the better ones of the late 1950s. Lafaro would join the legendary Bill Evans Trio during 1959 and quickly emerge as one of the most influential jazz bass players.

Ten days after they recorded two of the best live albums in jazz history, Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby, he would die in a car accident at the age of 25. This album catches Lafaro at the beginning of his short but brilliant career.

Tjader’s “Liz Anne” and “Big Bear” are shorter and more structured and catch Getz at his best. The group’s cover of the old standard, “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face,” features a gentle performance by Tjader, as he steps out of his support role and moves front and center. Interpretations of “My Buddy” and “For All We Know” complete the album.

The Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet was of those quickly put-together releases that worked well in the studio, as it holds up well over 50 years later. An essential release for any fan of jazz music.

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