Good as It Getz


Getz at the Gate


Any newly discovered vintage Stan Getz live tape has to shoulder some formidable competition—especially if you believe that the finest recordings he ever cut were the in-concert sessions he blasted his way through at the Royal Roost in 1950.

Getz was a footloose artist; adept in multiple styles, regularly on the go, he seemed to find a kind of home key on a stage leading a band. This two-disc discovery hails from a single night in late November 1961 at NYC’s Village Gate, with a different stripe of Getz. He’s fronting a four-piece, with bassist John Neves, pianist Steve Kuhn, and the heroic Roy Haynes on drums. It’s time we grant Haynes that label; ever notice how on nearly every session he contributes to, he is the player who makes his band cook?

This band is no exception, but whereas 11 years earlier at the Roost, Getz was decked out in the blues, he’s pushing the pace here. A postbop man who wants to rebop, you might say. He tears through “Airegin,” his tone like an advancing gust through a wind tunnel; it rounds the bend, and buffets you—but in a feel-good way—with its physicality. “Wildwood,” contrastingly, has the strains of the concert hall, Kuhn’s focus on providing a pianistic background for Getz’s tumbling cadenzas. “When the Sun Comes Out” unfolds with that effortless ease of a Chopin ballade which, of course, is not so easily done, but it feels firmly ensconced in nature’s corner as a kind of musical given, just as the sun’s appearance is a celestial one.

Much is made of Getz’s Lester Young-isms, but to put it in football terms, he’s more a hurry-up offense kind of guy—at least on this night. Young would let his moments come to him, waiting for gaps in the music to develop where he’d then stamp his identity, cool as you please, but Getz blows his horn like his notes are punching holes in the air. More space for his kind of sun. COLIN FLEMING




Linda May Han Oh is the current buzz on bass, employed by people like Pat Metheny and Joe Lovano. Her own fifth album is her most ambitious, combining a jazz quartet, a string quartet and, on four tracks, a five-person vocal ensemble.

Oh’s body of work as sideperson, bandleader, and composer has been erudite, technical, and meticulous. Aventurine is even more so. She has been working and reworking some of this extremely ornate and intricate material since 2006, when she was a student at the Manhattan School of Music, and she precisely manages its many moving parts. She also uses her instrumentation to create unusual textures, colors, and atmospheres. On the title track, the hovering strings are suspenseful and the voices evoke mysteries.

The downside is that Oh’s compositions often sound like the work of a student—a gifted student, one fascinated by her skill at contrivance. “Lilac Chaser,” as an intellectual exercise, is representative. In four minutes, it proceeds from a metronomic bass anchor to quivering, cycling string figures to a clattering drum groove by Ches Smith to an effusive piano abstraction by Matt Mitchell. Contrast becomes an end in itself. The piece never coheres into something larger.

The upside is that Oh’s manipulations of melody and harmony, and the way she shapes ensemble form, can create unfamiliar beauty. “Rest Your Weary Head,” a simple canon, is first expanded by strings and voices, then opens for improvisation and becomes a dramatic collective incantation. And her two arrangements of jazz standards are bold acts. Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave” is recognizable only in flashes before alto saxophonist Greg Ward is wildly unleashed. “Time Remembered” is wholly reimagined and turned darker. Oh takes Bill Evans’ impressionism through myriad iterations of subtle dissonance and segmentation.

Biophilia releases are available only as downloads from biopholio.com. THOMAS CONRAD




The history of jazz is in JD Allen’s horn. , his 13th release, follows a modest format: the tenor saxophonist lays out a simple melody, which is then cannibalized, regurgitated, and fired by his new rhythm section of drummer Nic Cacioppo and bassist Ian Kenselaar, over which Allen further deconstructs his initial message. It’s a traditional approach with untraditional

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