Written by 4:39 am Audiophile Music

Lost Concert by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto Surfaces

Mark Smotroff melts to the buttery tones of Getz / Gilberto live…

Like Buttah!  Lovely Lost Concert by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto Surfaces (and some spicy Art Pepper too!)

The set begins with a hush and an almost whispered vocal… and the music builds like the softest of warm sun showers on a hazy late Summers day…

AR-GetzGilberto76225.jpgThat kind of sums up the music on a wonderful new release from Resonance Records featuring the great Joao Gilberto and jazz saxophone innovator Stan Getz. Together the two created some of the best selling Bossa Nova jazz records of all time, including the million-selling multiple Grammy-winning 1964 release Getz/Gilberto.  

Why another release now after all these years? Well, it seems that these tapes from a weeklong 1976 run at the legendary Berkeley, California night spot, Keystone Korner have surfaced from the personal archives of club founder/owner Todd Barkan. Despite the massive success of their 1960s studio collaborations, Gilberto was not a frequent live performer, making these tapes all the more rare. Getz and Gilberto only performed live together a handful of times, apparently.

The recordings contained within Getz / Gilberto ’76 sound great, with very little (if any noticeable) tape hiss or distortion. A clearly mesmerized adoring audience is quiet when they need to be. These are incredibly intimate soundboard-quality recordings (at times it almost feels like a studio set) with a lovely balance between warm stage dynamics and live club sounds.  

AR-GetzMoments76225.jpgThese are not flat soundboard recordings — someone mixed this sound carefully before it got to tape!  You can feel the heat of Gilberto’s voice and the buttery soul of his gentle nylon string guitar sympathetically supported by pianist Joanne Brackeen, bassist Clint Houston and drummer Billy Hart. When Getz comes in, you feel his breath coursing through the reed of his Saxophone and through its brass horn…

If all this sounds like audio porn, well then you are on the same page with me. 

This is a very sexy recording, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The pressing from Resonance Records is on thick, dark, mostly dead quiet and well centered 180-gram vinyl, mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed at RTI. Only 2,000 copies of this deluxe package have been made. The album is also available on a CD as well which also sounds real nice as CDs go. Both come complete with extensive liner notes and photos, packaged in a deluxe high quality gatefold sleeve with audiophile grade antistatic plastic inner sleeve. 

They’re not messing around here, kids!

Also from Resonance is a companion CD called Moments In Time, recorded in that same week run at Keystone Corner, featuring Getz and this same band live, the only times this particular line up was recorded. There is a wonderful synergy among these players, so its quite remarkable that they didn’t record together in the studio. This is essential stuff for Getz fans as they do some great takes on tunes by Horace Silver (“Peace”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Con Alma”), Jobim (“O Grande Amor”) and even Johnny Mercer (“Morning Star”). And, going back to that breathy Getz’ sound, the opening track “Summer Night” sounds like the microphone was right next to his mouthpiece as well as the bell of the instrument. Its quite wonderful hearing Getz push air through the reeds. Again, the engineer who recorded these things knew what he or she was doing!

If you are not familiar with Stan Getz’ music, he is well worth the exploration. One of the original and distinctive voices of jazz Saxophone, his pure tone and thoughtful expression in many ways help set the stage for modern melodic players in a post – Coltrane world. Getz might be considered the kind of rich, lyrical link between Coltrane’s late 50s / early 60s sound (of, say, “Naima” on Giant Steps) and future 70s session legends like Michael Brecker and David Sanborn. 

Even if you haven’t heard the original 60s studio recordings of Getz / Gilberto, these 1976 live sets would be a great place to start because they are that good. 

AR-ArtPepper225.jpgLastly, in other saxophone news, Elemental Records has a new archival release out for fans of the late great Art Pepper. Recorded at Fat Tuesdays in New York City in 1981. One of the great jazz clubs in NY at that time, I saw Les Paul play at Fat Tuesdays with his trio many times back in the day.  

As good as it is, Art Pepper Quartet Live at Fat Tuesdays is more of a release for the hardcore fan. It certainly captures the sound of that club — which was wide and cramped, with a low ceiling. You could be in the back row and you’d be like 10 feet from the stage. An intimate space.  

The performances are wonderful and even off the hook at times. 

Yet, sonics wise, there is something odd going on, with an curious out of phase sort of sound going on in the high end; its much more apparent when the band is cooking than on the quiet tunes — the cymbals and upper end take on a weird almost wooshing sound.  I’d almost venture to suggest that it sounds like it was made off of low bit rate MP3s but digital recording wasn’t around back then, so something else must be going on here.  Also, there is too much fidelity on the recording for it to be made off a crummy MP3, so what I am hearing is probably just an anomaly on the master tape or perhaps even a result of where / how the mics were positioned. But don’t let that sway you — if you like Art Pepper, do get this.  

However, if you are an audiophile seeking something approaching the fidelity of, say Jazz at the Pawnshop , you’ll do much better with the Getz / Gilberto 1976 recordings above.  Grand stuff here, folks.

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