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Track List: listen
Stan Getz Announcement - 0:47
I\'m Okay - 6:32
Gone With The Wind - 6:33
First Song - 11:49
Allison\'s Waltz - 8:39
Stablemates - 8:38
Autumn Leaves - 10:27
Yours And Mine - 13:46
(There Is) No Greater Love - 8:56
People Time - 8:49
The Surrey With A Fringe On The Top - 8:02
Soul Eyes - 5:45
Tuning - 0:42
You Don\'t Know What Love Is - 9:51
You Stepped Out Of A Dream - 9:27
Soul Eyes - 7:47
I Wish You Love (Que Reste T-Il De Nos Amours) - 8:35
I\'m Okay - 5:36
Night And Day - 8:51
East Of The Sun - 9:35
Con Alma - 10:33
People Time - 6:34
Stablemates - 10:12
I Remember Clifford - 6:07
Like Someone In Love - 8:40
First Song - 8:45
The Surrey With A Fringe On The Top - 7:52
Yours And Mine - 9:22
The End Of A Love Affair - 9:25
Whisper Not - 8:52
You Stepped Out Of A Dream - 8:47
I Remember Clifford - 9:39
I Wish You Love (Que Reste T-Il De Nos Amours) - 7:51
Bouncing With Bud - 7:22
Soul Eyes - 7:20
The Surrey With A Fringe On The Top - 9:49
East Of Sun (And West Of The Moon) - 9:55
Night And Day - 9:25
First Song - 10:10
Like Someone In Love - 8:08
Stablemates - 9:33
People Time - 6:51
Stan Getz Announcement - 0:56
Sofltly As In A Morning Sunrise - 8:23
I Wish I Love (Que Reste T-Il De Nos Amours) - 8:49
Hush-A-Bye - 10:00
I\'m Okay - 5:54
Con Alma - 8:00
Gone With The Wind - 7:30
The Surrey With A Fringe On The Top - 8:03
Night And Day - 8:55
Stan Getz - tenor saxophone
Kenny Barron - piano
On February 26, 1991, a few weeks after his sixty-fourth birthday, Stan Getz concluded two days of work as a sideman with Abbey Lincoln for the album later released to much acclaim as You Gotta Pay the Band. I remember that wintry afternoon in New York well, because Stan had asked me to meet him at the end of the session. Though I had seen him perform many times, we had never spoken until early in the year, when he phoned out of the blue and asked if I would work with him on his life story.
Utterly honored but nonetheless apprehensive, I looked forward to meeting him during his New York visit. But when I arrived at the old RCA building on Forty-third Street and Sixth Avenue, I ran into Charlie Haden on the sidewalk, bundled up beside his bass, waiting for a lift. He explained that Stan hadn’t felt well and had left for his hotel; the session had gone so smoothly that it finished early anyway. Moved by the experience, Charlie enthused about how remarkable Abbey was and how exceptionally well Stan played—working right off the lead sheets, without rehearsal, hesitation, or error. I walked to the corner phone booth and reached Stan at his hotel and he asked me to come over.
Stan Getz was a legendarily manipulative guy with a reputation for inconstancy: he could be Bela Lugosi with fangs bared or Cary Grant oozing charm. The epigrammatic Zoot Sims famously called him “a nice bunch of guys.” One night he phoned when I was out and my wife said, “Stan Getz called. He is such a nice man!” Not long afterward I told that to Gerry Mulligan, who had known and worked with him for more than four decades, and he laughed. Half an hour later, he laughed again, and said, “I’m still working on what a nice guy Stan is.” So I leave it you to interpret our initial meeting. His companion Samantha opened the door and Stan, looking quite well, briskly walked forward, smiling, hand outstretched, and said, “You’re Jewish, right? I can tell. You’ve got that open, honest smile.” Instantly, we were landsmen! The ethnic bond wasn’t necessary, but it didn’t hurt. We hit it off and I loved being in his company.
We talked about the book and about his cancer, which at that time he was treating holistically with a suitcase full of pills, herbs, and macrobiotic foods. He was more than optimistic; he was confident, almost radiant. On one occasion, before I committed to the project, I told Stan it wasn’t worth doing unless he was willing to speak candidly about his history of narcotics and other stimulants and all the troubles, legal and personal, they had triggered. He did his boyish grin and said, “Of course! Why wouldn’t I? I mean, that’s stuff that happened when I was a kid.” Even now, I’m not certain if he was joking—he had recently been embroiled in a messy, public divorce that hinged on his alcoholism and cocaine addiction—but I rolled my eyes and we kept talking.
As a fan, I had seen the darker side erupt only once, at Fat Tuesday’s in the 1980s, when he verbally demolished a table of middle-aged frat boys who carried on during the set, and walked off stage, refusing to resume until they left. (I thought he was entirely in the right, though, yes, he might have been a bit more tactful.) When Stan and Mel Lewis, the great drummer and bandleader, were similarly diagnosed in 1987, Stan told Mel, “I’m too evil to die,” a line that traveled as fast as a streak of burning gunpowder. Usually, however, he was a princely presence on stage, especially in concert halls, where hewould ask for the amplification to be turned off so that he could enjoy the natural acoustics—something few jazz musicians, even solo pianists, had the nerve to do.
During the week of the Abbey Lincoln session, Stan discussed with Kenny Barron a project he had been mulling over for several months—a duet album. The idea originated on tours with his magnificent quartet: Kenny, Rufus Reid, and Victor Lewis. Each night, Stan would ask for the mikes to be turned off as he and Kenny alone performed Benny Carter’s “People Time.” (Their devotion to this piece, which they first recorded in Glasgow in 1989, was particularly piquant for me. In February 1987, John Lewis and I had invited Benny to conduct an evening of his music with the American Jazz Orchestra. On that occasion, Benny premiered and recorded Central City Sketches, of which the third movement is “People Time.”) Stan was very excited about the duets album, remarking with characteristic conviction, “There are only three pianists left: Hank [Jones], Tommy [Flanagan], and Kenny.”
At this time, Stan was under contract to Herb Alpert’s A&M, which had recorded but refused to release (until 2003) an excellent quartet date; it issued instead the frankly commercial and duly successful Alpert-produced Apasionado (Kenny later described it as a “kind of Brazilian pop”) with a mostly electric rhythm section, including two synthesizers, plus a wind section. A&M, not surprisingly, had no interest in tenor-piano duets, but Alpert provided the necessary clearance when Stan brought the project to producer Jean-Philippe Allard, who “jumped at the opportunity.”
This was not their first time working together. Jean-Philippe, whose role in the career renaissance of Abbey Lincoln (including You Gotta Pay the Band) cannot be overstated, had also produced two albums by Stan’s quartet, recorded at a 1987 concert in Copenhagen’s Café Montmartre. An album, Anniversary, had been released at the time to fervent praise and, as it happened, the second album, Serenity, was released—to equal approbation—around the time (March 1991) that Jean-Philippe was arranging for the two men to record live for four nights at Café Montmartre. In lieu of a rehearsal, Stan and Kenny gave a concert at the Charles Hotel in Boston, and then traveled to Copenhagen where they opened little more than a week later.
The performances were miraculous. They include some of the most candidly impassioned music ever recorded and represent a pinnacle in the art and lives of the musicians and the producer. In the candid, poignant liner notes he wrote for the original release, Kenny recalled: “Stan played exceptionally well, giving every solo his all. But I noticed after each solo that he was literally out of breath.” You couldn’t tell that by listening to the fourteen selections chosen for the album People Time.
Each night, they played two sets. On the last night, they played one of the finest sets of the engagement—a parting gift of luminous inspiration. Yet afterward, Stan was in too much pain to continue and the second set was canceled. They played one more concert in Paris, Stan’s final performance, and returned home, where he resolved to treat his illness with more conventional and aggressive means. He told Kenny that he hoped to tour again in the summer. That was the last time they saw each other. When Kenny called in May, Stan said he was feeling much better and that they would begin their next tour of Europe with a July 4 concert in Paris. He also spoke of how pleased he was with the Montmartre tapes.
In April, Jean-Philippe had brought the tapes to Stan’s home in Malibu, where they spent ten days listening to them and choosing together the selections that would be released on the two discs of People Time—an instant classic. Jean-Philippe remembers that “Stan was very serious about this album. For him it was a way to show to the world how great Kenny was. He was very insecure about himself but he was happy with the result.” Let that suffice as a cue to emphasize the obvious: Stan Getz is the emotional pivot of this music, but People Time and—to a far greater extent—the complete People Time are true duet performances. Kenny Barron’s work here signifies not only a highpoint in his career but an insuperable, probably unique achievement in the annals of jazz piano.
Kenny had much in common with Stan. Both were born in Philadelphia, emerged as child prodigies, and began working professionally at fifteen— which for Stan was in 1942, the year before Kenny was born. Each came to modern jazz from an unlikely apprenticeship: Stanwith Jack Teagarden’s Dixieland swing, Kenny with Mel Melvin’s rhythm and blues. Mentored by his brother, the unjustly neglected tenor saxophonist and composer Bill Barron, Kenny played as a teenager with Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef, Ted Curson, and James Moody. Stan spent his teens with Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Kai Winding, and Gene Roland. At nineteen, each had a breakthrough: Getz made his first records as a leader (Hank Jones on piano), though the true originality of his sound would emerge a year later in Woody Herman’s band, and Barron signed on with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet. Musically, they rode the same wave; temperamentally, Kenny is as stable as Stan was volatile. I once saw a great but inebriated musician berate him at a party over a tempo. Kenny later shrugged it off as the price of working with genius. I doubt that Stan ever shrugged off anything in his life.
Except for an isolated gig in the early 1970s, Kenny didn’t begin working with Stan until 1984, and then only periodically, until he became a member of the quartet in 1986. That year, they recorded together for the first time, a session that ended abruptly when Stan walked out, displeased with his own playing. The sidemen were “bewildered,” Kenny wrote, “because we thought we had two really great takes.” But the next day Stan called Kenny apologetically, explaining that “he felt a little intimidated because that was the first recording he had ever done, or attempted to do, sober.” I guess by Stan’s reckoning, he was still a kid.
The dedication of both men is apparent throughout the complete Montmartre recordings; at one point, Stan even stopped the concert to change his reed, mischievously offering drinks on the house. On every selection, Kenny is a marvel of empathy, ingenuity, and energy bordering on the sublime and frequently brimming over. He not only had to attend to Stan’s musical cues, but to his wavering physical capacity, which, combined with the perfectionist diligence that threatened Getz’s equanimity, demanded ultra-sensitive reflexes on every tune, every night. There are countless moments when Kenny reads Stan’s mind, complementing him on a wavelength we are privileged to overhear. Several of the most exhilarating moments occur when (following the piano solo) they read each other’s minds, achieving contrapuntal ecstasy. Elsewhere, there are moments that may induce tears or perhaps an epiphany regarding the delicate line between love and anguish.
While the public has had seventeen years to absorb People Time, Jean-Philippe has had custody of the tapes that documented all seven sets played over four nights. Now we can all return to that week in March at the Montmartre, but do not think that this is simply more of the same. The complete People Time is a profoundly different experience; the context transforms each selection, revealing unsuspected dramatic juxtapositions and a heightened array of nuances.
Before delving into these seven mini-epics, consider the overall terrain: forty-eight selections consisting of twenty-four tunes, nine played once, seven played twice, seven played three times, and one played four times. The repertoire is divisible by two, pop standards and jazz pieces (no blues). All thirteen of the standards are love songs, five with love in the title. Four are meditations on lost love (“Autumn Leaves,” “Gone with the Wind,” “The End of a Love Affair,” “Hush-a-Bye”) and the rest explore the renewal of love. The jazz pieces, excepting the robust “Bouncing with Bud” and the wistful “Whisper Not,” are darker, more demanding works that frequently evoke rarified heights of expressive eloquence.
In the case of Charlie Haden’s “First Song” (composed for his wife Ruth), a level of transcendence is attained that has little equal in the oeuvres of Stan Getz or Kenny Barron or anyone else.
B Y G A R Y G I D D I N S
"One should always listen closely when people are saying goodbye," Katherine Hepburn tells us in "Stage Door." Likewise, Stan Getz, the great tenor saxophonist, found a way to make sure that people would be listening closely when he experienced what would be his last hurrah. Just a few months before his death, Getz (1927-1991) decided to make a live album with the pianist Kenny Barron. Getz and Mr. Barron—who had just spent five years performing with the bassist Rufus Reid and the drummer Victor Lewis in what was quite possibly the best quartet of Getz's career—formed a sort of band within a band, working four nights in front of a live audience (and a recording crew) at the Café Montmartre in Copenhagen. Shortly after Getz's death, 14 of these tracks were issued on a two-CD album titled "People Time." Now, Universal Music France is issuing the complete recordings—48 performances on seven discs that amount to as moving a last will and testament as I have ever heard by a major musician.
Will Friedwald, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - December 2009 read the full article
Recommended by NPR for the basic Jazz library
He knew he was dying when he made this recording. As I say, it would have been a remarkable under any circumstances, because it's just nothing but piano and saxophone duets. The fact that Getz knew he did not have much time gives it an added poignancy. And, the poignancy is not only in the ballads. It's in the up tempo tunes too.
Murray Horwitz, NPR - September 2000 Listen to the Interview
In depth review by Geoffrey Himes in the June 2010 issue of JazzTimes.
Geoffrey Himes, JazzTimes - June 2010 read the full article
Fantastic review by Francis Davis in the May 26, 2010 issue of the Village Voice.
Francis Davis, the village VOICE - June 2010 read the full article
Check out this insightful review by James Hale in the August 2010 issue of DownBeat.
James Hale, DOWNBEAT - August 2010 read the full article
JazzTimes names "People Time" as the #2 Historical/Reissue of 2010!
, JazzTimes - February 2011 read the full article
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