Fresh from the archives at the Concord Music Group, Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet has been dusted off with a sonically satisfying remaster. Recorded February 8th, 1958, the session was co-led by one of the giants of tenor saxophone, Stan Getz, and the influential vibraphonist Cal Tjader. The rest of the sextet were certainly able to match those high standards, with Vince Guaraldi (of Peanuts soundtrack fame) on piano, Eddie Duran on guitar, Billy Higgins on drums, and Scott LaFaro on bass.
Guaraldi’s “Ginza Samba” is such a strong showcase for the group, it threatens to overshadow the other half dozen tracks. Over the course of eleven minutes, the dizzyingly uptempo Brazilian-flavored tune allows both band leaders to dig in deep. Getz became best known for popularizing bossa novas, but at the time of this recording he was primarily a West coast jazz player. Guaraldi and Duran also work up a sweat before the tune’s conclusion.
Among three Tjader originals, “Liz-Anne” is a lilting waltz-time feature for Getz. He keeps his solo relaxed and light as air throughout the album’s briefest tune. Another Tjader composition, “Crow’s Nest,” gives Scott LeFaro his only solo spot. LaFaro was most celebrated for his time with the Bill Evans Trio. Only twenty-one years old when this was recorded, LaFaro lost his life in a car accident three years later. One of three standards on Sextet, “My Buddy” closes the album with the gorgeous contrast of Tjader’s delicate vibes and a brassy, bluesy statement from Getz.
Unlike some previous Original Jazz Classics Remasters, there are no alternate takes included as bonus tracks. But consistent with the series, the original liner notes are included along with an essay by Doug Ramsey. In his notes, Ramsey defends the lack of bonus tracks by asking, “If you were the producer, which of these seven pieces would you have told Tjader, Getz and friends to do over?” It’s a rather silly question, as I’m guessing there were additional takes recorded for at least some of these numbers. His point still comes across, however, as Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet provides a very satisfying listening experience even without additional material.