Every once in a while, the stars align in the Jazz world and
great things happen, as they did in December 1953. At that
time, Norman Granz (1918-2001) of “Jazz at the
Philharmonic” fame arranged a studio session between
Bebop pioneer, Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993), and
“cool Jazz” star, Stan Getz (1927-1991). Granz also
procured the talents of the Oscar Peterson Trio for this
session, which at that time included bassist, Ray Brown
(1926-2002) and guitarist Herb Ellis (1921-2010). Add the
considerable drumming skills of Max Roach (1924-2007)
to this mix, and you have one helluva rhythm section!
The eight tracks on the CD I heard were originally released
on two 10-inch records entitled, “The Dizzy Gillespie –
Stan Getz Sextet” and “More of the Dizzy Gillespie –
Stan Getz Sextet” on the Norgran label, and were later
released on a single LP as “Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz:
Diz and Getz” on Verve. It’s an important addition to their
impressive catalogue, and the accompanying booklet is
a faithful reproduction of the original liner notes, with an
additional new essay by Doug Ramsey.
These tracks illustrate how two horn players with
seemingly disparate styles can come together to make
exciting and compelling music. The breakneck speed of their
rendition of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” features
Dizzy and Getz trading solos! The younger Getz clearly had
more to prove, as Dizzy was already considered the
preeminent trumpeter in the Bebop tradition. This track and
others, such as “Impromptu,” made it clear that Getz could
be more than just a “cool Jazz” balladeer!
Let’s also not forget the rhythm section. Peterson (1925-2007)
was in virtuosic form, and Max Roach was great at driving the
tempi. Herb Ellis had time to shine during “Impromptu,” and
Ray Brown added an occasional bass solo throughout, while
keeping up the pace. However, not every track was fast.
Performances of “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” and
“It’s the Talk of the Town,” both beautifully illustrated the
lyrical skills of Getz and Gillespie.
Interestingly, the brief “One Alone” was recorded by
Gillespie in New York City. It featured Hank Mobley on
tenor saxophone, Wade Legge on piano, Lou Hackney on
bass, and Charlie Persip on drums. The remaining seven
tracks were recorded in Hollywood.
All in all, this roughly 47-minute CD is a treasure, and
an example of what can happen when circumstances
bring about the meeting of great, but different musical minds.