Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Name Stan Getz May Be Vaguely Familiar


. . . but I guarantee you’ve heard him playing his saxophone, many times. 

“Desafinado” was a pop hit in 1962 and launched the bossa nova sound in the U.S — it’s the first tune on this classic must-have jazz album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd (guitarist), “Jazz Samba”.

Byrd introduced Getz to Brazilian music, and the backstory behind recording “Jazz Samba” is fascinating — a lot of practice and experimenting was required.

Byrd was introduced to Brazilian music by Felix Grant, a friend and radio host who had contacts in Brazil in the late 1950s, and who was well-known there by 1960 due to the efforts of Brazilian radio broadcaster Paulo Santos. Following a spring 1961 diplomatic tour of South America (including Brazil) for the State Department, Byrd returned home and met with Stan Getz at the Showboat Lounge. Byrd invited Getz back to his home to listen to some bossa nova recordings by João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim which he had brought back. Getz liked what he heard and the two decided that they wanted to make an album of the songs. The task of creating an authentic sound, however, proved much more challenging than either had anticipated.

Getz convinced Creed Taylor at Verve Records to produce the album. Taylor and Byrd assembled a group of musicians they knew. These early sessions did not turn out to either man's liking, so Byrd gathered a group of musicians that had been to Brazil with him previously and practiced with them in Washington, D.C. until he felt they were ready to record. The group included his brother Gene ("Joe") Byrd, as well as Keter Betts, Bill Reichenbach and Buddy Deppenschmidt. Reichenbach and Deppenschmidt were drummers, and the combination made it easier to achieve samba rhythm. Finally the group was deemed ready and Getz and Taylor arrived in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1962. They recorded in a building adjacent to All Souls Unitarian Church because of the building's excellent acoustics.

“Jazz Samba” was released in 1962 and spent 70 weeks on the Billboard pop chart, hitting #1 in March 1963.

Getz went on to record “The Girl from Ipanema” on his 1963 album “Getz/Gilberto” with Joao and Astrud Gilberto, who shared the vocals. 

This is the album that really exploded, selling two million copies in 1964. 

Here’s a live version featuring just the female lead singer from the hit single, Astrud Gilberto along with Getz.


Prior to recording this song for the album, she had never sung professionally. 

This is the full “Getz/Gilberto” album, chock full of highly listenable and melodic music.

It was a natural fit, the marriage of these styles, and still sounds fresh and timeless today, about as timeless as music can be. 

I highly recommend both albums, obviously. 

But Getz was a tremendous sax player well before his foray into Brazilian music — check out his version of the beautiful jazz standard “Misty”.