Last Sunday, London Shoes made a welcome return to one of its favourite topics….’live’ music – and I was extremely privileged to be included on the guest-list of the fantastic ‘Chris Ingham Quartet’ for their sell-out gig at the legendary world famous “Ronnie Scott’s-Jazz Club” in Frith Street-Soho-LondonW1.
The reason I was lucky enough to enjoy this experience is down to the kindness of my old drum tutor ‘Gentleman’ George Double – who, as a much younger man, was once a customer of Barclays Bank-Mare Street-Hackney at a time when I was branch manager there, way back in the 1990’s.
Because of our love of music, George and I struck up a friendship at that time, and he had the patience to give me drumming lessons in the basement of his tiny flat in Hackney – an enjoyable experience that I shall always remember.
Anyway – George went on to much bigger and better things musically, and is now one of the most accomplished drummers on the London jazz scene and beyond – and plays regularly in Chris Ingham’s group performances.
Followers of London Shoes will be aware that I have ‘blogged’ the band on a few occasions throughout the life-span of my London Shoes work – and made my initial visit to “Ronnie Scott’s” back in February this year, when the band performed their excellent ‘The Jazz of Judy Garland’ set with the incredible Sara Dowling on vocals – but their gig at Ronnie’s last Sunday, was something I was really excited about, as their set was all about the music of one of jazz music’s greatest ever saxophonists – the legendary “Stan Getz”.
The band have currently performed their “Celebrating Stan Getz” set at over 20 venues throughout the UK this year, earning rave reviews, especially from the jazz media – and so this was a gig that I (and the sell-out crowd) was really looking forward to experiencing – and I was certainly not disappointed. But before talking more about the gig itself, I thought it might be useful to briefly touch on the ‘history’ of the jazz legend that is ‘Stan Getz’.
Stan Getz was born ‘Stanley Gayetski’ in 1927 in Philadelphia-USA.
He started playing saxophone at the age of 13, and by the age of 16 he was a full-time musician.
Throughout his long career he has played with all the jazz greats such as Woody Herman – Jimmy Dorsey – Oscar Peterson – Dizzy Gillespie – Benny Goodman – Nat King-Cole – Horace Silver plus many many more.
In the 1950’s he became a soloist and started leading his own acclaimed bands – extensively touring the USA, Europe & other parts of the world.
In 1952 he received high praise for his playing on the ‘hit’ album ‘Moonlight in Vermont’.
During the early 1960’s ‘Getz’ became influential in introducing ‘Bossa Nova’ style music to America.
For those that may not know, ‘Bossa Nova’ is a style of Brazilian music that originates from the ‘Samba’ style, but places more emphasis on melody and less on percussion.
In 1963 Stan Getz won a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance for his recording of “Desafinado” – It sold over 1million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
He also gained a second gold disc for his ‘Jazz Samba Encore’ album.
In late 1963 he teamed up with guitarist and singer Joao Gilberto to record an album – and on this album was a track entitled “The Girl from Ipanema”.
The vocal for this track was provided by ‘Astrud Gilberto’– Joao Gilberto’s wife at the time.
Astrud Gilberto had never sung professionally before, and it is her untrained and perhaps slightly nervous soft voice, plus Getz’s breathy sax solo – that gives the record its uniqueness.
‘The Girl from Ipanema’ single went on to be a massive worldwide hit and defined what Bossa Nova music was all about, to the world. Today, it is still up there as being one of the most recorded songs in music history.
In 1964 Getz had won another Grammy for ‘Ipanema’ but by that time, Bossa Nova music was starting to become less unfashionable.
Stan Getz could have spent the rest of his days creaming money off the success of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ by sticking to playing just Bossa Nova music, but he chose not to.
Instead, he returned to his main love which was ‘cool jazz’.
In the early 1970’s Getz teamed up with legendary jazz pianist and former Miles Davis side-man ‘Chic Corea’, to form a sort of jazz fusion type music – which has influenced many subsequent jazz artists.
In 1986, Stan Getz was inducted in to the ‘Jazz Hall of Fame’ in recognition of his work and his influence on jazz music.
However, Stan Getz led a troubled private life. He had been addicted to alcohol and drugs from way back when he was a teenager – and he had also been married a few times and had had numerous affairs.
He was quite a complex character – One of his best mates and a fellow musician once famously described Stan Getz as being “a nice bunch of guys”.
Sadly, in 1991, Stan Getz died of liver cancer.
During his life Getz recorded over 100 albums either as a solo artist or as a side-man with other artists – and he was awarded a total of 5 Grammy’s in acknowledgement of his work.
Stan Getz ashes were poured from his saxophone into the sea, 6 miles off the coast of Marina del Rey-California – what a lovely touch.
So – back to the Chris Ingham Quartet’s Ronnie Scott’s gig.
The venue was sold-out for the Chris Ingham Quartet’s “Celebrating Stan Getz” performance – and the band, consisting of Chris Ingham (piano) – my old drum tutor mate George Double (drums) – Joe Pettitt (double Bass) and the incredible Mark Crooks (sax) – delivered a brilliant set that was lapped up by all the enthusiastic punters who were lucky enough to have got hold of a ticket.
What was really good about the gig was that, all the way through, Chris Ingham provided a commentary between numbers, explaining to the audience the stories behind each tune, such as what period in Getz’s life the number had been recorded-who played on the sessions etc, whilst adding snippets of info about Getz and his personal life – so, that by the time you left the venue to go home, you felt that you knew Stan Getz personally – really interesting and useful to music nerds like me.
Being on the band’s guest-list, my vantage point to watch the performance was on a stool up at the bar, in direct view of the stage – perfect.
During the interval my old mate George Double invited me backstage to the dressing room for a catch-up chat, and I couldn’t help thinking that, there I was, standing in a room where so many music legends and jazz greats had once stood – what a great buzz.
As the 2nd half of the show began and while the rest of the punters were sitting at their tables finishing off their 3 course meals – I was happily getting stuck in to a few ‘cheeky’ ones from the bar behind me.
My preferred tipple for the day, (and a complete change from my usual ‘pigs-ear’ norm), was gold-watch (e.g. Scotch) & lemonade – which was served-up in a lovely big glass, with plenty of ice, and a straw.
It goes without saying that the bands “Celebrating Stan Getz” set went down a storm with all the Getz aficionados in the audience – and at the end of the performance, following rapturous applause, the bad were called back for an encore.
By the end of the gig, I had downed 4 of these gold watch & lemonades, and I became aware that I was starting to ‘rock’ a little bit on my stool. What I didn’t take into account was the size of the measures being poured, nor the price of them – £11:25 each!!! – costly yes – but very very nice (but, as my good lady wife said to me when I got home, “I just don’t understand why you had to have 4 of them”).
So –that’s it, another great music related experience for me to capture and publish on the London Shoes website – historic venue-great band–epic music.
Hope you enjoyed this little tale and its accompanying photos.
Here are all the photographs of this “Celebrating Stan Getz” at the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club – blog