Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Dynastic Getz

© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Getz has the four virtues of a great musician: taste, irreverence, individuality and courage.”
- Jean Louis Ginibre Editor of Jazz and Lui Magazines

 “It is doubtful if Stan Getz has ever played better in his life.” 
- Benny Green, The Observer - London 14 March 1971

“Recorded at a live engagement in London, Getz was in happy and
swinging form here, and the quartet stretch out as far as they want
on the material. Louiss is far more flexible and discreet than most
jazz organists and Getz is untroubled by anything the instrument
produces, while the reliable Thomas takes some excellent solos.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

In a recording career that spanned almost half a century, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz produced so many memorable albums that it’s easy to overlook some of the more noteworthy ones.

A case in point is his 1971 Dynasty LP which was released as a double CD in 1989 as Verve 839 117 -2 and on which he is joined by guitarist René Thomas, Hammond B-3 organist Eddy Louiss and drummer Bernard Lubat.

As is recounted in the following stories about how this fine recording came to be, interestingly, Getz heard Thomas, Louiss and Lubat performing as a trio at the old Blue Note Jazz club  at 27, rue d'Artois , a street perpendicular to the Champs Elysees in the 8th arrondissement of Paris in the late 1960s during the waning years of the club’s existence.

And although Dynasty was recorded in performance on March 15,16, and 17th 1971, the venue for it was Ronnie Scott’s Club in London as the Blue Note had closed by this time.

Stan would return to Paris before and after the recording was made and perform with René, Eddy and Bernard at Le Chat Qui Pêche located in a cellar in rue de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter, on the left bank of the Seine.

According to Wikipedia, “It was run by a woman called Madame Ricard, who had been in the French Resistance during the war, and "who looked so small and delicate that people likened her to the 'Little Sparrow', Edith Piaf. According to legend, Ricard had become a heroine of the French Resistance by informing against the Nazis. As she floated through the club she was all maternal warmth, however, calling the musicians 'mes enfants' and housing them in an apartment she kept over the club."”

This was also a period during which Stan was recording often with pianists Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, bassists Ron Carter and Stanley Clarke and drummers, Roy Haynes, Grady Tate, and Anthony Williams.

Stan’s playing had become very muscular, assertive and forceful and I refer to this as his “Captain Marvel” style after the album by the same name that he made for Columbia. For an example of this characterization, listen to his solo on the title track.

His approach seems more pulsating and primitive than the polished and pure sound usually associated with his playing.

The double CD is made up of 10 tracks with four originals by Eddy Louis, three by guitarist Thomas and one by trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff. The other two cuts are standards: Benny Golson’s I Remember Clifford and Bronislau Kaper’s Invitation.

Stan Getz explains how this album came about in the following “Letter to Jean Louis Ginibre, Editor of Jazz and Lui Magazines.”

Letter to Jean Louis Ginibre Editor of Jazz and Lui Magazines
Dear Jean Louis,

“Here is some further background information regarding the conception of this album. We had come to Paris in June, 1970 to watch the tennis championships, and, as a criminal who always returns to the scene of his crime, I went to the old Blue Note where I had played thrice annually from 1959-61. I had been told that jazz in France was dead, and sure enough the club was almost empty. I walked in and my mouth fell open. I heard some hard core swinging jazz, everybody was dipping in, really taking their piece. There was Eddy Louiss on organ, René Thomas on guitar and Bernard Lubat on the drums. The Belgian guitarist, René Thomas, I had known many years ago when he lived in Canada. As you know Eddy is from Martinique, and Bernard from Paris.

I returned to Malaga for the rest of the year, but that foot-tapping music kept repeating in my ears. I found it sad that crowds will only turn out for an American "name artist" regardless of the quality of the music. I had always felt a rapport and affection for René, disciple and heir to Django Reinhardt's special legacy, a gentle soul mixed with absent-minded poetry and earthy gypsy fire. Eddy was something else again, a volcano of power and talent ready to erupt if the right earthquake could ignite him. Bernard, a prize-winning classical percussionist from the Paris Conservatory might just be flexible enough to develop into the right ingredient for the music taking shape in my mind. The American premise that European Jazz Musicians cannot swing might have been true in the past. The fact is that these guys disproved that old premise after a few days of unannounced rehearsal engagement at the Le Chat Qui Pêche.

These musicians deserved a better fate than a slow death before disinterested Parisians. As you know I do not have a reputation for being an indulgent critic - but what happened musically was unique, and suddenly all Paris caught on that something tremendously exciting and new was going on. I decided then and there to present these musicians to the rest of the world.

Malaga, Spain May 1971.

Here’s Jean Louis take on the proceedings:

“The nights at the Le Chat Qui Pêche were privileged moments. Stan, who has always quietly been a major musical influence and pace-maker, never seems to sacrifice beauty and intelligence in the name of progress. His group and material again knocked people out of their consciousness of category and age. Rock oriented kids were elbowing with classical musicians, business men with artists. The music was new and exhilarating unlike anything we had ever heard before. Getz has the four virtues of a great musician: taste, irreverence, individuality and courage.

This double album, recorded live during a record breaking three-week engagement at the Ronnie Scott Club in London, will enable jazz fans of the whole world to meet again with one of the few giants left in jazz. And we listeners realize who Stan Getz really is today: a great man ot music with inexhaustible imagination, indefatigable enthusiasm, inextinguishable humor, indisputable taste and unique originality. The king of a dynasty. A dynasty of princes who have replaced in their veins the blue blood with blues blood.
Jean Louis Ginibre Paris, France, May 1971.

The esteemed Jazz critic Benny Green who caught the group’s performance at Ronnie Scott’s had this to say about it in The Observer - London 14 March 1971

"Getz the greatest"

“Jazz people are just as susceptible as anybody else to the ancient fraud that the golden age ended the day before yesterday, and will therefore be stupified by what they find if they take the trouble to drop in at Ronnie Scott's Club between now and next Sunday night. Having dropped in, they will certainly be in no great hurry to drop out again, because they will have the privilege of hearing not just one of the great jazz masters of all time, but a jazz master who is not long in the tooth and style. It is doubtful if Stan Getz has ever played better in his life. When we consider this in the light of his past achievements it becomes a little clearer what kind of jazz is being created in London at this moment. Getz's genius has flowered again at a particularly significant moment in jazz development - when form is laughed at and any kind of creative discipline is suspected of being passionless. Whatever his theories are worth - and he is the shrewdest of musical thinkers there is no question of his executive greatness.”

The “Cover note for Stan Getz double album Dynasty” was written by Spike Milligan,  British-Irish comedian, writer, poet, playwright and actor.

“On a wet miserable day in wartime England, I was sitting in an O.P. Sherman Tank -operating a radio set - the Regiment had stopped for tea during this lull in training, I tried to get the B.B.C. Home Service just to see if World War II was over; instead I hit on Allied Forces Network - and I was hit by the sound of a tenor player, who was blowing up the most beautiful sound storm I'd ever heard. So far I'd heard the new sound of Lester Young but this (with apologies to Lester) was three cuts above. First the sheer overwhelming quality, warmth and vibrancy of the tone. It was so good, he could just play the same note for thirty-two bars and still satisfy you, but it had all the emotional depth of Hawkins and Chu Berry, the straight ahead drive of Eddie Miller and Bud Freeman, the bite of Charlie Barnet, but on top of this was the new identity of a superior musical intellect. 

It seemed he'd taken the tenor out of the working and middle class bracket and crossed over into the aristocracy hut still retaining its jazz antecedence; no doubt at that time he was influenced by Lester Young (credit where it's due man!), as I say I listened - at the end of the record the announcer said "Benny Goodman and his band" - but no mention of the soloist. I wrote to the station and they said it was a man called Stan Getz. Who in the hell was Stan Getz? I'll tell you, Stan Getz was the first man to actually get me "hooked" on one particular musician - I almost had to get him on prescription from a doctor - "I want to play these Getz records three times a day after meals". Since that distant day Stan has become world famous.

I won't go into those ridiculous unnecessary eulogies of each track that some sleeves indulge in - after all you're about to play them and decide the merits yourself; instead I will add a note as to Stan Getz himself. If you are at all a sensitive person you will detect in his playing a sadness, perhaps it was the sudden death of his father in the midst of the recording sessions coupled with an inherent sadness, a feeling of suffering, which is released or rather aborted from his being by unending flurries, suspensions and cascades of notes which get into a trinity of: feeling, intellect and technique. One feels, that had he not got this superb musical gift, he might become suicidal. "Of suffering, beauty is born"; I feel this might be the essence of Stan Getz. Like Van Gogh - he suffers, but my God look what he gave us.

Enjoy the record - it's meant to be - if perchance you don't enjoy it, find a convenient cliff of say six hundred feet in height- Jump off it!

Spike Milligan, London, May 1971.

After listening to Dynasty, I think you might agree with Benny Green’s assertion that - “It is doubtful if Stan Getz has ever played better in his life.” 


  1. Thanks, Steve! I loved the info contained in this blog post - a lot I've not read before. I hold Stan and his music close to my heart always. Appreciate this and your writing/blog posts. Marla

  2. I remember buying this album one Saturday morning at the famous Sam's Record Shop on Yonge Street in Toronto. I bought it without listening to it because, after it was Stan Getz, who I worshiped, and I had a fairly large collection of Stan's LPs. I put it on my Dual turntable and lay back on my couch with great anticipation. I was somewhat disappointed. This was a very different Stan Getz from his Verve Quartet albums .... but I persisted ... and after listening to the two-LP set for a week or so, I began to enjoy it more and more. Eventually the beauty and dynamism of this album became clearer. Today it's a favorite "listening" album to be savored like a glass of fine wine....


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