STAN GETZ: ‘Sweet Rain’ (Label: Verve)

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STAN GETZ: 'Sweet Rain'

To my mind, ‘Sweet Rain’ is Stan Getz’s best ever album – not that the tenor saxophonist’s early-’60s dalliance with the Brazilian bossa nova sound wasn’t rewarding creatively as well as financially, but this somewhat overlooked album (helmed by the legendary jazz producer, Creed Taylor, and recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s famous Englewood Cliffs studio in New Jersey in March 1967) showed the true scope of Getz’s genius as a jazz improviser. It captured the Philly-born tenor sax man (real name Stanley Gayetzky) in a straight-ahead setting as part of a quartet comprising the mercurial Chick Corea on piano with Ron Carter supplying dextrous bass lines and Grady Tate contributing some deft drum rhythms. The session kicks off with the Corea-penned ‘Litha,’ an absorbing eight-minute workout that juxtaposes a lyrical mid-tempo section with a propulsive, hard-swinging, uptempo passage. It’s a great vehicle for Getz to show off his considerable chops and also offers the chance for Corea to shine with a glittering piano solo. By contrast, ‘O Grande Amor’ (co-penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim) finds Getz easing back into the bossa nova style that accrued him a legion of followers in the first half of the ’60s. The title track, penned by British vibes player, Mike Gibbs, is a gorgeous mid-paced ballad where Getz’s feathery solo excursions contrast with Corea’s crystalline extemporisations. In a different vein is a sinuous reading of Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘Con Alma,’ with drummer Grady Tate underpinning Getz’s mellifluous sax effusions with a mixture of syncopated, percussive rimshots and crisp snare beats. Another fine Chick Corea composition, ‘Windows,’ closes the set. By turns meditative and playful, it combines outstandingly imaginative solos (from Getz and Corea) with impeccable ensemble work. The album as a whole possesses a freshness and beauty that hasn’t been diminished by time. Indeed, ‘Sweet Rain’ sounds as good now as it did when it was first released 41 years ago. It’s reissued in digipak format as part of Universal’s ongoing ‘Originals’ series.
(CW) 4/5