Stan Getz – Stan Getz Quartet Live at Montreux (1972/2013)

by | Nov 15, 2013 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Stan Getz – Stan Getz Quartet Live at Montreux (1972/2013)

Performers: Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams
Studio: Eagle Eye Media EE392689 (Rec. 6/23/72) 
Video: 4:3 screen format color
Audio: English DTS Digital 5.2; Dolby Surround 5.1; DD Stereo 
Length: 62 mins. 
Rating: *****/ ***

The Stan Getz Quartet – Live At Montreux 1972 captures a brief, but significant, period in the legendary saxophonist’s career. Sometimes referred to as Getz’s “Captain Marvel” band (from Stan’s album of the same name), the group features Chick Corea, on electric piano; Tony Williams, on drums; and a twenty-year-old Stanley Clarke, on bass. Born out of expediency – Getz had gigs, but no band; Corea had a band, but no gigs – the newly-formed aggregation debuted to sold-out audiences at New York’s Rainbow Grill in January 1972. In June, they performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival where this was taped. And now, forty-one years later, the domestic DVD release of this wonderful concert is finally available. The corner stage is much smaller than most of the later Monteux performances. Note: Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira, who was part of the original group, did not appear on this performance.

In the blossoming fusion movement of the early ’70s, musicians were combining the amplification of rock with the improvisation of jazz, and freely mixing-in musical influences from around the world. Ten years earlier, Getz had ushered in Brazilian bossa nova sound to North American audiences with great success. In 1972, re-energized by the talents of Corea, Clarke, and Williams, he was back with a more muscular cross-cultural sound, electrified and electrifying. The quartet’s set list was made up mostly of Corea’s now classic compositions. Getz starts off with “Captain Marvel,” a Spanish-tinged melody played over a medium fast, quasi-Latin groove. Corea and Clarke jump in to provide harmonic and bass support. Williams freely blends fiery Brazilian and Afro-Cuban patterns, kicking the band forward. A brief camera shot shows Les McCann, just off-stage, checking out the “fireworks.”

“Day Waves” has a pensive opening melody line that gives way to an insistent, straight eighth-note Latin feel. Then, the band takes off like a jet, accelerating into a double-time jazz samba, as Stanley Clarke shows why he became one of the most influential bassists of his generation, nearly stealing the show with an incredible display of virtuosity. For Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” Corea plays the acoustic grand piano. Getz is the only soloist on this tune. His intimate tone and consummate phrasing sets the pace as he smoothly builds the intensity. On the coda, Tony Williams switches from brushes to sticks, briefly breaking into a swinging, 4/4 Philly Joe-style groove before quickly melting away, leaving the rest of the band suspended in mid-air for the closing notes.

The fourth tune, “Windows,” allows Chick and Stan to stretch out in 3/4 time with excellent solos. Afterwards, a short version of Benny Golson’s “I Remember Clifford” spotlights Stan’s introspective saxophone musings. On the high spirited “La Fiesta,” after Chick’s bucolic piano introduction, Getz takes the bull by the horns and digs into the melody line, while Clarke and Williams lock into a modified Afro-Cuban 6/8. “Time’s Lie” closes out the set as a showcase for Williams’ adventurous drumming. Tony lays out for the first part of the tune (an understated jazz waltz), then hops onboard when it morphs into an energetic jazz samba. With support from Corea and Clarke, he goes into overdrive, coordinating his hands and feet in an amazing display of percussion.

The incredible musical performance of these master musicians easily rates five stars. The three-star rating is for a good, but not great, production. The audio mix is decent, but there is a slightly fuzzy, washed-out quality to the video. The menu selection is bare bones (not necessarily a bad thing) and features song selection and a choice of audio format (Dolby 5.1 Surround is available), but there is no bonus footage or extras. For the most part, the camera angles provide a fair balance between full shots and brief close-ups of all the players. For drummers, this is a must-have video. Williams is using a small drumset (4pc., 18” bass drum), instead of the massive set he used during the latter-half of his career. His solo on “Time’s Lie,” alone, is worth repeated viewing. Overall, this DVD is an important part of Getz’s legacy. The Captain Marvel band was short-lived, but it was a preview of great things to come. Before the end of the year, Corea and Clarke were getting their Return To Forever project off the ground, and Williams was busy creating another iteration of the Tony Williams Lifetime. And Stan Getz, of course, continued to make great music for the rest of his life.

1. Captain Marvel (Corea)
2. Day Waves (Corea)
3. Lush Life (B. Strayhorn)
4. Windows (Corea)
5. I Remember Clifford (B. Golson)
6. La Fiesta (Corea)
7. Time’s Lie (Corea)

Kurt Brinkmeyer

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