Great Encounters #40: In the studio with Bill Evans and Stan Getz

January 29th, 2015


“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the star-crossed story of the 1964 recording session featuring Verve saxophonist Stan Getz and pianist Bill Evans, issued as Stan Getz and Bill Evans.

Excerpted from Bill Evans:  How My Heart Sings by Peter Pettinger


In 1961 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had purchased Verve Records from Norman Granz. Creed Taylor became the new executive director, and made a number of crucial policy decisions, including the sacking of the majority of Verve’s contract artists. One of a handful to survive was Stan Getz, who had been recording for the company since 1952. Taylor aimed to reach the largest possible audience through jazz, and he succeeded; Stan Getz, for example, soon wooed the public with his smooth bossa nova explorations – not to say hits – with Charlie Byrd, Astrud Gilberto, and others. It seemed inevitable in 1964 that Taylor should team up his star tenor player with Bill Evans; with Evans still fresh from his Grammy Award, the pairing promised commercial success.

Rudy Van Gelder had finally abandoned his career of optometry and had built a new studio at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. In early May, Evans spent two days there recording with Stan Getz and the drummer Elvin Jones; Richard Davis and Ron Carter shared the bass spot. This collaboration of mixed fortunes was issued as Stan Getz and Bill Evans. To be sure, Getz was alternately ravishing and ebullient, but Evans seemed curiously empty of ideas when up-tempo, resorting a couple of times to his “dribbling” cliché (four or so quick notes, rising by semitone, in groups syncopated across the beat), a sure sign of unease. On “My Heart Stood Still,” the drummer seemed to be powerhousing a big band that was not there. For a track like this, Richard Palmer is right to suggest that McCoy Tyner would have been a more successful choice as pianist for the date.

Getz seduced “But Beautiful” through Bill’s characteristic key-cycle of thirds, and “Funkallero” (from Loose Bloose) proved itself a fine blowing vehicle, but the group was not settled, and Evans exhibited a sense of rhythmic strain on “Night and Day.” This and other tracks were subjected to the almost obligatory Verve fade. As for “The Carpetbaggers,” Bill may well have thought to himself, I can’t believe I’m actually doing this! as he continued, robotlike, to put down beats two and three…

Equal in curiosity value is the WNEW theme song, meriting just one chorus each of piano and saxophone and playing out in under three minutes. Ah, but of course: another potential hit single for the flip side of “The Carpetbaggers”! On the original LP, snatches of “Dark Eyes” formed a mad postscript, a mutual flashback to teenage dance-band days complete with flatulent vibrato and pummeling stride; Getz yells, “You forgot the arrangement!” The writer Barry Kernfeld reminded me of the circumstances: “In what was meant to be a private joke at the end of the session, Getz recorded a parody of ‘Dark Eyes’ in which he exaggerated the crassest elements of tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura’s raspy style; the Verve company released this recording, to Getz’s embarrassment and fury, but Getz managed to have the Ventura send-up deleted from reissues.”

Evans summed up the star-crossed nature of the session much later: “Both Stan and I had a mutual desire to do a record together but when it was over, we both felt that we had not got to the level we wanted. Stan had a clause in his contract that would prevent the release of anything that he did not approve and so the record was not issued. However, later, Verve released it without approval. I am no so unhappy about it now but this is the sort of thing that record companies do without reference to the artists involved.”

In fact, Evans had the same clause in his contract, and both players had the same lawyer. Artists and management alike were unhappy with these tapes, but it would have cost $10,000 to get an injunction. Resigned and angry, Helen Keane and her pianist let the recording come out in 1974.


Excerpted from Bill Evans:  How My Heart Sings, by Peter Pettinger



“The Carpetbaggers Theme”

Share this:

2 comments on “Great Encounters #40: In the studio with Bill Evans and Stan Getz”

  1. This is an important album. I have it of course and revel in listening to it every 3 months.

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache


In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art


“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #127

Before his tragic early death, this trumpeter played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and John Coltrane, and most famously during a 1961 Five Spot gig with Eric Dolphy (pictured). Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.


Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.


Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive