Dizzy Gillespie & Stan Getz: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Diz and Getz (Verve 589780)
Composed by Duke Ellington & Irving Mills.
Recorded: Los Angeles, December 9, 1953
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
Whenever Getz and Gillespie shared the same stage, it was more than music . . . it was a battle. Was there some bad blood between these two jazz giants? I was around Gillespie and Getz back when the two long time friend-adversaries were planning an ill-starred mid-'80s live recording with Gillespie that—alas!—was torpedoed at the very last moment; and Getz's private comments at the time made it clear how much respect he had for Dizzy. Yet if you listen to the recordings they made together, you can't miss the combative atmosphere. Their 1953 and 1956 sessions for Verve rank among the most intense dates of the decade. One senses that Gillespie is calling tempos as fast as possible, and trying to disrupt the serenity of the king of cool sax playing. Dizzy's trumpet work on this track is fiery and unrelenting. Getz, for his part, refuses to back down, and plays with an aggressiveness and speed that was out of character for this disciple of Prez. The proceedings are further enlivened by one of the fastest rhythm sections on the planet, circa '53. By my scorecard, Gillespie wins by the narrowest of margins on this encounter, but Getz comes back strong and wins the 1956 rematch—which may be even more impressive, since he takes on both Gillespie and the speed racer of the alto sax, Sonny Stitt.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia