Music DVD and CD Review: Stan Getz Quartet - Live at Montreux 1972

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The latest gem from the jazz vaults of the Montreux Jazz Festival to find its way to DVD and CD via Eagle Rock Entertainment is this remarkable set by Stan Getz, Live at Montreux 1972. Seven tunes played with calm authority, this 62-minute program offers the chance to see the tenor saxist fronting a quartet of much younger jazz notables. Getz was the elder statesman of this group at 45. Keyboardist Chick Corea was all of 31 at the time. His Return to Forever bandmate Stanley Clarke was about to turn 21. Sharing rhythm duties with bassist Clarke was 26-year-old drummer Tony Williams.

The Montreux Jazz Festival had only been in existence for five years prior. 1972 was Getz’s debut performance at the festival, which had already moved beyond strictly jazz by that point. Non-jazz artists sharing the bill that year included early rock and roll pioneers Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. But the Getz Quartet definitely represented straight-ahead jazz. Getz opened his set with “Captain Marvel,” a Chick Corea composition and the title track of Getz’s contemporaneous album. Minus percussionist Airto Moreira, Getz’s Montreux 1972 lineup is identical to the personnel who accompanied him on the record. In fact, five of the setlist’s seven tunes are taken from that album, including a marvelously subtle reading of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life.”

The non-Captain Marvel tunes arrive midway through, with Corea’s “Windows” and the Benny Golson standard “I Remember Clifford.” Everyone’s in fine form throughout, though the real fireworks start with the final two extended pieces, “La Fiesta” and “Time’s Life.” The former is locked into a hypnotic groove by Clarke’s primary bass motif that’s returned to throughout the 12-minute performance. The latter begins unassumingly enough, with Corea tracing a quietly meditative keyboard line. Again, Clarke leads the charge with a galloping line that kicks then ensemble into uptempo mania. Williams plays like a madman here before it all settles down for the tune’s (and the set’s) final few minutes.

For those who want to soak in Getz and company’s work on the go, Eagle Records has conveniently issued a companion audio CD. The album notes claim this is the first CD release of the concert, though that should probably be amended to “first time in the U.S.” Spanish label Gambit released this very show on disc in 2008 (now out-of-print). Live in Montreux 1972 presents the entire seven-track set, along with Chick Corea’s liner notes (the same ones found in the DVD), penned in 2011.

Even the closing band introductions are included at the very end of the album, though Getz’s no-frills introduction of “Lush Life” is snipped out. That’s about the only additional banter heard on the DVD, as these guys obviously came to play, not talk. This performance, a departure from the bossa novas that made him famous, opened up Stan Getz to a whole new generation of jazz fans. That we can still see and hear it more than 40 years later is valuable.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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