One Note Samba: By Stan Getz

Stan Getz, by all accounts was not a nice guy. A superb technician on the Tenor saxophone he had little patience or kindness for musicians who were less than perfect. No doubt, in his last cancer-ridden years he was even less pleasant, though his improvisations became even more complex, original and deserving of the description ‘celestial’. Never a master of bebop improvisation or the Blues, Getz’s finest and happiest playing erupted in the early 1960’s when he launched into Brazilian tunes and Samba rhythms.

In 1962 he recorded ‘Samba de Uma Nota’ (One Note Samba), a tune written by composer and guitarist Antonio Jobim and Newton Mendonca. Accompanied by the two guitarists Charlie Byrd (a superb guitar master) and Gene Byrd, Keter Betts (bass) and Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach drums, this is a masterpiece. Byrd plays some fine chordal improvisation and Getz demonstrates all the qualities that an improviser aspires to in one tune. Starting with sparse phrasing he alternately soothes, snarls, shouts and swoops with joy using long notes and fast runs. This is a perfect piece of music, foot-tapping, melodic and exciting. Not to be confused with the music of the Beatles!

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