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Old Aug 17, 2007, 12:59 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Jazz Feature for Aug.20:STAN GETZ MEETS CHET BAKER.

Stan Getz (born in Philadelphia,PA on Feb.2,1927 and died on June 6,1991) and Chet(Chesney)Baker (born in Yale,Oklahoma on Dec.23,1929 and died in Amsterdam on May 13,1988) were two of Jazz music's bad boys. Narcotics played a direct and indirect role in tonight's feature and we'll tell you why. Tenor saxophonist Getz is ackowledged as one of the major voices on his instrument. His sound,swing and lyricism and unmistakable concept mark him as a Jazz giant. Baker, even at this early stage(1953) was one of the most distinctive melodic voices on the trumpet and the pairing of Chet and Stan seemed like a natural fit except for the fact that they absolutely hated one another. Tonight's feature was their first meeting at the legendary "Haig" in Los Angeles in mid-1953. Subsequent meetings over the years, whether in the recording studio or on tour were all disasters but that's another story.
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Baker were the talk of the Jazz world in 1953 and their home was the little dollhouse of a Jazz club called "The Haig". The great baritone saxophonist had been busted for heroin possession in June of 1953 and jailed(California had very tough dope laws and one could be arrested for merely having 'tracks') so that was the end of the Mulligan Quartet and Baker was on his own. When Mulligan served his time, he emerged clean and sober and never looked back on drugs and had an amazing career as one of the most influential voices on his horn and one of the most distinctive composer/arrangers. Club owner, John Bennett came up with a solution to Mulligan's departure........Stan Getz. Getz was living in L.A. at the time and was as busy playing music as he was dodging the LAPD drug squad. His personal life may have been chaotic but his music was brilliant in '53. Getz replaced Mulligan and the Haig gig continued with Gerry's rhythm section. The late Carson Smith was on bass and the versatile Larry Bunker was on drums. Richard Bock of Pacific Jazz Records saw a wonderful opportunity to record Getz and Baker together and he did with the intent of releasing the results of the June 12 gig on his label. Getz, who had signed with Norman Granz' labels(Clef and Norgran, later Verve) couldn't keep the recording a secret and when Granz found out, he threatened to sue Bock if the session was released. The recordings were bootlegged for years and finally properly released by Blue Note(Pacific Jazz division) in 1997.
Getz is in brilliant form and Baker, freed from the disciplines of Mulligan's music plays assertively and with a lot more punch. However, the beautiful interplay that Mulligan and Baker had is missing from this gig as Getz and Baker eyed one another from opposite sides of the small stage. Having said that, the music does cook and reaches some great heights and it is the best get-together that these men ever had. Baker, unlike the sophisticated and knowledgeable Getz, played strictly by ear and really sounds amazing and we hear a young and energetic Chet who, although no angel at this time,was not addicted to heroin........yet. The tunes are all basically Jazz standards (Yardbird Suite, Half Nelson, Bernie's Tune etc.) and standard pop tunes (My Funny Valentine, What's New, Yesterdays etc.). The magical interplay may be missing but the solos are brilliant. Getz, of course was never that comfortable with another front line horn unless it was J.J.Johnson, Roy Eldridge, Wardell Gray, or Dizzy et al. All in all an interesting gig by two of the most lyrical musicians in Jazz history....check it out tonight on the Jazz Feature.
Because of the death of one of the most important figures in Modern Jazz, drummer/composer Max Roach, who passed away at age 83 on April 16,2007; the first two hours of The Jazz Show will be devoted to the musical contributions of Mr. Roach as a sideman and leader. Join me in tribute to Max tonight.
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