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Ed Svoboda is a former SOTW Forum Moderator. He's now mostly involved with setting up his own mouthpiece website.

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Greg Fishman

Greg Fishman Interview

Part 5

by Ed Svoboda

left corner Greg Fishman

Ed Svoboda:
Well, lineages in jazz historically have always been important. Without Lester Young to some degree do you have Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, and Al Cohn as well as a host of other tenor players who were very influenced by Lester. Then you had the folks who were following Ben Webster and his ideal of the more Texas tenor. You had these lineages. I think we got to Coltrane and it seemed like with the exception of some of contemporaries who kept going with the free jazz movement it seems like that has ended some of this. Brecker has maybe been the exception to that in that he has taken a lot of the technical prowess that is the wonderfulness that is Coltrane and expounded upon it in an interesting way.

Greg Fishman:
We were talking about those old players and the Stan Getz books. I should get back to that a little because I kind of diverted from your question about the three Stan Getz books. I knew Stan during the last year of his life. I got to hang out with him a couple of times, and I talked to him on the phone about a dozen times. He heard an audition tape I sent to Stanford University for a summer jazz workshop around 1989. He actually called me on the phone and told me he heard my tape and he liked it. I was in shock to come home and find Stan Getz's voice on my own answering machine! The first time I met Stan in person was at a fund raising event for Stanford University. I flew out to Malibu for the event, which was a dinner and a concert by Stan's quartet. Although there were lots of people there, I managed to convince someone to let me sit next to Stan for the dinner portion of the evening. At that time, his album Apasionado had just come out, and Stan was proud of that recording. For the concert I sat right in front of him, in the first row, about two feet away from the bell of his horn. What a thrill! Lou Levy was playing piano, Alex Blake on bass, and Terri-Lynn Carrington was the drummer. On a side note, in 1996, I was playing with the Woody Herman band and Lou Levy was playing piano. We got to hang after the gig, and I told him about the night I saw him with Stan. Lou and I got to be really close friends. I saw Stan about a month after that in New York, for what turned out to be his final performance at Carnegie Hall. I went to find his dressing room and was stopped by security, but amazingly, Stan had given them my name in advance, and they let me through to see him. So, I hung out with him all day and in the dressing room. I heard him warm up and try reeds. It was just thrilling. I couldn't believe it was real. I showed him about 250 solos of his that I had transcribed - a huge stack of papers. I made copies for him. He was impressed with the transcriptions and he was flattered that I liked his playing so much. We were going to publish a transcription book together, but he died before we got the chance. He passed away on June 6th 1991.

Around that time, I was still an undergrad at DePaul. Frank Mantooth, a great big band arranger, was one of my teachers. Frank was writing a book of re-harmonized standards for Hal Leonard. It just happened by accident that I came into his office to ask him about something and I saw a couple of lead sheets on the piano and I said, "Hey Frank why don't you try it like this?" I just went to the piano and started to play subs that I like to use, and he said "That's great, I'm going to put those in my book." I was just joking around and said "you better give me credit if you use those changes." A few months later, I got the book in the mail. I looked through it, and saw that he actually had given me a credit in the book. Since Stan had just died, and I had all of those transcriptions ready to go, I called Hal Leonard and I mentioned Frank's book. I told them my story about meeting Getz and our plans for the book. They said that they were interested in putting it out. About a year and a half later it came out and it turned out to be one of their best sellers in their artist transcription series. Then they asked me if I wanted to write another Stan Getz book. I suggested that we should do two more books. There should be a Bossa Nova book, because those are so important, and another book of the 50's period of Getz.

The thing I really admire about Getz is that, unlike most of his contemporaries, he continually surrounded himself with young players and continued to evolve and explore new musical styles. It was very unusual for a player of his generation to play with such young and modern players like Gary Burton or Chick Corea. And of course, the music that made Stan a household name, the Bossa Nova. Stan Getz had the uncanny ability to sound right at home, no matter what the context, whether it was an orchestral setting, a straight ahead quartet, Bossa Nova, or even his short-lived fusion band of the late 1970s. He always maintained his musical identity and integrity, while fitting in with his surroundings.

Stan will probably always be my overall favorite, because he was a melodic genius. I never get tired of hearing him. Melodic playing has much more of a timeless quality than pattern oriented playing - melodic playing never sounds dated.

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Greg Fishman: Biography
Created: September 19, 2005.
Update: October 3, 2005
© 2005, Harri Rautiainen and respective authors