A look back at Stan Getz’s Sweet Rain
March 14, 2017
By Rusty Aceves
For our March Hotplate, Bay Area saxophonist Kristen Strom performs music from tenor legend Stan Getz’s 1967 Verve album Sweet Rain. We look back at this classic album.
When considering the highlights of Stan Getz’s incomparable career, which include such landmark moments as his collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Byrd, and Lionel Hampton, the genius proto-fusion of Captain Marvel, the third-stream experimentation of Focus, and of course the bossa nova blockbuster Getz/Gilberto, the saxophonist’s superlative 1967 quartet recording Sweet Rain can be unfairly overlooked. Standing in the shadow of the unprecedented mainstream success of Getz’s bossa period that came before, the Creed Taylor produced Sweet Rain is as perfect a straight-ahead date as the leader ever made, with a remarkable young band including pianist Chick Corea, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Grady Tate providing crackling energy that clearly inspired Getz to new heights of expression. Bookended by the Corea compositions “Litha” and future standard “Windows,” Sweet Rain finds Getz’s warm, breathy tenor in top form despite minor articulation issues on the second half reportedly ascribed to his continuing drug use, with his accuracy and speed remaining pinpoint in execution, in evidence particularly on Corea’s breakneck paced and rhythmically slippery opener “Litha.” The date served to make a standard of British composer Mike Gibbs’ title tune, with exploratory takes on compositions by past collaborators Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gillespie rounding out the set.
In his effusive liner notes for the original Verve release, revered Los Angeles jazz radio personality Johnny Magnus wrote:
“In this album… “Sweet Rain” …I hear the complete, mature, full-grown master of his instrument and soul. Never has he played so poetically. The moods and tempos change… complex… elusive like butterflies or quicksilver. Don’t fight it. Just go with it and let it happen … again and again and again. “Whatever Stan Wants Stan Getz!”
Kristen Strom and her band perform music from Sweet Rain on 3/16 as part of the SFJAZZ Hotplate series. Tap here for more information.