*I posted all the recordings I could find on Youtube that go with this transcription book at the bottom of this review………Enjoy!
It’s with a bit of embarrassment that I admit that in the past, I have never really been a big fan of Stan Getz. I remember hearing his name when I was younger and checking out some of his recordings but what can I say? Those were my Michael Brecker and Bob Berg years. I couldn’t get enough of those guys. Their tones sounded energetic, raw, focused and in your face. Stan Getz sounded mellow, mature and laid back to me. I just never got into him back then. I remember feeling the same way about Joe Lovano, Harry Allen, Warne Marsh and Rich Perry when I first heard them. It was just a different tone than what I preferred back then.
As we mature and grow as musicians, our ears and minds can open up to players in a fresh way sometimes. I remember continuing to check out Stan Getz as well as the other players I listed above through the years and starting to appreciate their greatness more and more. What I once didn’t like about their sounds, was what was now attracting me to their playing. They were different, unique, one of a kind and special.
In the last decade, I started listening to more Stan Getz and now realize what I was missing out on all those years. When I heard that Hal Leonard was releasing a Stan Getz Omnibook I had to check it out. I’ve now spent about a month with it and after checking out these recordings and solos I have to say “Wow! Stan Getz was unbelievable!”
A couple days ago, I went through the whole book from cover to cover. Most of the recordings can be found on Youtube these days which is pretty cool. I spent about four hours just listening to every recording and following along with the transcriptions and I can’t tell you how many times I just felt awe and shock by what I just heard and saw in the transcriptions.
The Stan Getz Omnibook
Here is what I found amazing about Stan Getz while going through this process: His commitment to creativity and the melodic line. What does that mean? Well, as I went through the 54 transcriptions, I was amazed by the multitude of creative melodic ideas within them. When you go through a book of transcriptions by one artist, you usually will see many repeated concepts. Melodic ideas being used a number of times or even the same lines being used over the same chords a number of times. Although I did see a few instances of this, it was much less than I usually see with an artist.
What I did see, was a commitment to melodic ideas. I saw this over and over again in every solo. For example, most players will play over a Db7 chord by pulling from their resource of ideas that they have indexed in their brain and string these ideas together so they sound connected or related. Rather than doing this, I get the sense that Stan Getz is thinking of a melodic idea and playing that idea through the changes. He’s molding it and changing it to work and fit the harmonic context. It’s not about regurgitating ideas he has in his head but coming up with something new and fresh. In my opinion, this is much harder than just playing different variation of what you already know.
At times, you hear him stumble a little bit as he tries an idea over the changes but then he regains his balance again and it’s like watching a master walking on the tightrope. We are excited and thrilled and have no idea how they are making it look so easy.
The Stan Getz Omnibook
I can honestly say that my appreciation for Stan Getz has sky rocketed as I worked through this Omnibook. To me, it’s a creative thesaurus to open up your minds to possibilities. Although there are “licks” you can grab from this book, if that is all you do, then you are missing the bigger picture. It’s more about seeing how Stan Getz transcends the chord progressions and floats above them. How he breaks free of the chains most of us are enslaved by. The chains that make us play certain lines or certain rhythms over a certain ii-V-I progression. The chains that make us feel like we have no choice but to play that thing we always play on the B section instead of living on the edge and maybe messing up.
When I listen to Stan Getz, I hear a man who has escaped those chains. I get the sense that every solo is a moment of creative freedom that breaks those chains and leaves them lying in the dirt far below.
The other thing I love about Stan Getz is that I don’t hear “ego” in his playing. I know nothing about him personally but I love that his solos weave in and out of complexity and simplicity over and over. With some players, I get the sense that they are always trying to impress. Either with how fast they can play, with how high they can play, with how complex they can play……. I feel like Stan Getz could care less about any of that while he is playing. Maybe I am wrong, but as I listen to these solos, it seems to be all about the moment and the music. Nothing else! The moment and the music……..To me, there is no more joyous and elevating concept. The moment meaning “now” “something new” “something fresh” etc…….. The music meaning “now” “what can I create” “what new direction can I go” etc……. I love this!! I can’t get enough of it!
When I hear him get complex and more intricate with his lines (which he does plenty of in these solos), it’s not like he’s saying “Listen to this really cool complex idea I worked out before hand” but rather, he seems to be saying “I just had this creative idea of something I can try with this solo, let’s see if I can do it……..”. That’s how it seems to me.
The Stan Getz Omnibook
The picture above is the inside page of the table of contents of the Stan Getz Omnibook. The *stars mean that I have those recordings in my collection already. A “Y” before the title means that the recording is on Youtube somewhere. A question mark or nothing means I couldn’t find that recording anywhere. You can see that there are only three of the 54 that I couldn’t find. The circled song means that on first listen I was completely blown away and these were the first three transcriptions I would work on. Billie’s Bounce, I want to be Happy and Yardbird Suite just had so many lines and ideas that made me jump out of my chair and yell “Oh Yeah!!”
There are so many other moments I could write about though. The melodic ideas in Stella blew me away. The rhythmic playfulness in One Note Samba that made him play more on the edge and take chances when he could have played it much safer. His use of triplets in Summertime is amazing. How Yardbird Suite is so burnin’ but balanced with a laid back relaxed feel that is so rare in a burnin’ solo. So much more I could write about………..not to mention all the Bossa Novas classics in this book……Beautiful!!!
As a side note, I want to say that most of the book has the melodies included in the transcription with the exception of “Very Early” which just has the solo. I write this because it confused me and I didn’t think the Youtube clip was the right recording because the melody was missing from the transcription.
I only found a few mistakes in the book by just looking at the transcriptions and listening and wouldn’t you know those were in the very last transcription in the book. Yesterdays (also a killer solo) has a mistake on the 4th line, 3rd measure where the D should be an F# and in the 5th line, 2nd measure the DCDC eighth notes should be DCDD. Other than that, I didn’t really notice any other mistakes in the book. Not saying there are no others but my impression is that this book is very accurate from looking through it and playing the pages I have so far.
I see no acknowledgement or credit to whomever transcribed these solos. This person deserves some recognition and praise in my opinion. The Stan Getz Omnibook translates to years of work so whomever this anonymous person is I say “Thank You”.
One aspect of the Stan Getz Omnibook that is incredibly impressive is the chord notation. The person that wrote these transcription was incredibly specific about the chords being played. I haven’t tried to check their accuracy but I am assuming they are correct when every chorus of a tune has slightly altered chords. For example, if you look at the first tune in the book “Airegin”, the first chorus has the first three chords as Gm(add9)/D7#5(#9)/Gm13(maj7). The second chorus has the first three chords as Gm7/D7b9/Gm7. My point is that the transcriber seems to go into as much detail with the chords as with the transcription which is cool to see especially with some of the chord substitutions used in some of these tunes (Check out Autumn Leaves with F#-7 substituted for F Maj7 at many points in the tune. Also check out Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise that is usually just D-/E-7(b5) A7(b9)/D-. In this transcription every alteration and voicing is notated in detail…..) I’m assuming this transcriber has some monster ears………..
Great job by Hal Leonard in creating another great Omnibook in their collection that includes John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Pass, Charlie Parker and now Stan Getz. You can get the book from Amazon. (Hover your mouse over each ad below to see what instrument each book is for)
If you end up getting the Stan Getz Omnibook please feel free to come back and share your thoughts and comments with all of us below. If you have other thoughts about Stan Getz I would love to hear them also. I found this great article online with some interesting background on Stan Getz from the New York Times if you are interested. I wish I appreciated him more when I was younger, he is deeply missed. Now I have to go practice…………. Steve
Links to all the Tunes I could find on Youtube (If any of these links do not work, please let me know so I can fix the links. Thanks, Steve)