Stan Getz & Dizzy Gillespie: Lover Come Back to Me

Back in 1953 Getz and Gillespie battled it out at a very intense session, and it seemed like Dizzy was picking very fast tempos and deliberately trying to unnerve the cool school tenorist with an immersion into the boiling hot. Is it relevant that Dizzy, writing in his autobiography, griped that cool jazz was "white people's music," played by those "who never sweated on the stand"? Or is there no connection between that sentiment and the intense jousting that always took place when these two artists met in the frontline? In any event, if Dizzy tried to cut him in 1953, Getz did not bleed and fought back with some very aggressive playing of his own.

Fast forward three years, and Gillespie is ready for a rematch, and this time he brings along alto speedster Sonny Stitt to try to put even more pressure on Mr. Getz. Again the tempos are faster than normal, and Stitt sets the pace here with all of his usual double time licks. Gillespie follows, and though he is not quite as prepossessing over these changes as he would have been a decade before, he still makes a very strong statement. But Getz's playing here is the real revelation. Those who have only heard his bossa or ballad work may not know how much technique this artist had at his command, and how well he responded in pressure situations on the bandstand. I especially like Getz's overall sound on this track—his tone keeps its warmth and full body even when he increases the intensity of his attack. Give the nod here to Stan, who shows how deep his bebop roots went in this must-have performance for Getz fans.

August 31, 2009 · 0 comments


Cassandra Wilson: Lover Come Back to Me

The rhythm section adopts a retro pose on this reworking of a 1928 Romberg and Hammerstein standard. Sewell's chug-a-lug guitar work would not be out of place in the old King Cole Trio, and even Jason Moran surprises with some traditional licks . . . well, at least for the first 16 bars of his solo. Wilson creates great drama here by adopting a relaxed, behind-the-beat manner of phrasing, which contrasts markedly (and nicely) with the hard swing of the band. Few vocalists are freer or looser with the old songs than Wilson, and she delivers another top-notch performance on this solid track.

June 13, 2008 · 2 comments


Billie Holiday (with Stan Getz): Lover Come Back to Me

In October 1951, George Wein booked Billie Holiday to play at his Storyville nightclub in Boston, where she shared the bill with 24 year-old tenor saxophonist Stan Getz. Getz had modeled his sound on Lester Young, Holiday's collaborator on many of her most celebrated recordings, and the idea of getting him to join her on stage for a few songs must have seemed an inspired move by all parties. The results - for once - more than lived up to the expectations. I can't recall another Holiday recording from the 1950s where she sings with such energy and enthusiasm. Getz, for his part, only plays obbligato, but you can sense his pride at serving as President - or Prez, to be more specific - for a day. This shimmering track is not well known, but deserves a place in the Lady Day Hall of Fame.

February 11, 2008 · 0 comments


Dizzy Gillespie: Lover Come Back to Me

This 1948 session for Victor showcases the Gillespie Orchestra as one of the most innovative ensembles of its era. The intricate arrangement features a syncopated ostinato, implying 6/8 time, anchored by baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne that underscores Gillespie's lyrical rendition of the melody in 3/4 time. The added percussion helps suggest an overall bolero aesthetic. On the bridge, the melody, split between the sax and brass sections, is rhythmically reworked to fit a more articulated Latin feel. After a quick cadenza, Gillespie launches the band into a double-time swing passage that features Dizzy's masterful trumpet skills in all their pyrotechnical glory.

February 05, 2008 · 0 comments


Roberta Gambarini: Lover Come Back to Me

The spirit of Ella lives! Gambarini shows off her considerable vocal skills on this rapid-fire version of the Sigmund Romberg standard. And not the slightest telltale accent betrays the Italian origins of this up-and-coming vocalist, who first made her name working in Milan clubs during her late teens. A tendency to be too slick may be Gambarini's only limitation - the mood is so upbeat that it's hard to imagine that she is singing a lament about a lost lover here. But her scat-singing is impressive and her phrasing impeccable.

November 28, 2007 · 0 comments


Al Cohn & Zoot Sims: Lover Come Back to Me

                  Zoot Sims at Birdland
                  Photo by Marcel Fleiss

Al Cohn and Zoot Sims may have gone to that great tenor battle in the sky, but at least they live on at their own MySpace page. (However, I must admit that I am afraid of clicking the link on that page which sends an email message to Al and Zoot. I prefer to use a Ouija board, not cyberspace, to contact the great horn players from the golden years.) Face the facts, email and text messaging are not the way to enjoy these tenor titans. Better to mix a stiff drink, and kick back listening to the knights in shining Selmers joust over the changes to "Lover Come Back to Me." Cohn takes the first two solo choruses, and Zoot digs in for three, and of course they save some special treats for the four-bar question-and-answer period. And here's an unexpected treat: Mose Allison serves as referee on the eighty-eight keys. Who wins this duel? The listener, of course.

November 27, 2007 · 0 comments


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