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· Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,243 Posts
Unsung & a master of originality ; he took the bari to another level

Maybe some you might of heard him in Zappas last bands. Maybe?

In the rock sax world Kurt is NEVER documented as he should be. In 70's he wrote and played on Phoebe Snows 3ed record. The string writing was as good as it got- and it wasn't full of dumb cliche' stuff either. Likewise the wildman bari sax solo stuff he did w/ Graham Parker.

I thank Mr Marsh and a few of my L.A buds for dubs thru the years on Kurt.
Albert Wing 'bout the time I was doing NAAM shows w/Guardala etc and playing stuff w/ Brecker at the NAAM shows...I hooked up with Wing and he was kind enough to give me rare Zappa stuff- some of which Kurt was on.

I called Ray Pizzi today, because he was another who spoke of Kurt highly. They used to do lots in various settings. Ray had no idea he passed and broke into tears when I told him the sad news.There so far as he knew wasn't anything in LA TIMES about Kurt or Pizzi woulda saw it. SAD:(
Ray used to have Easter egg hunts for the kids & Kurt would bring his family over and they'd hang. as we spoke Ray told me of a _CURRENT_big band he's writing an ENTIRE book for....and had features for Kurt already written!!
THAT'S HOW GREAT KURT WAS!!!!!! A musicians musician.Pizzi would of had some stuff for to hit- oh yea.

He was one of the bari sax players who knew- how lame parts were in big bands and the lack of real solo stuff. So he hung in stuff like Ladds bands as Marsh described. BUT- his vehicle was ZAPPA. I saw a dub a friend in Jersey had ( a bassist ) and he said- " You must know this guy on bari Tim- he's a freak...playing the Zappa stuff and going for no mercy " ....right he was. It was Kurt. No mercy- and no cliches either.

In 1970- I heard him in the basement at Berklee. This was before stuff like the FRINGE or anything...and this Bari roars outta small ensemble room. I'll
never forget it. Ever!! For a second I thought it mighta been someone outside the school- but I looked in and there was Kurt. I saw him around and he was a few years older than me. Later that session- he played soprano-so I had to ask him cuz he was getting that Surman sound on soprano, but more of a American- ized bluesish thing. But even more...kinda Mariano but not.
So I find out he had a Berg rubber soprano mouthpiece and the first LAWTON
bari sax mouthpiece I ever saw. ( Even before Big George and Frank Foster hit w/Elvin and had Lawtons ) BUT- originality was in his concept. Iasked Mariano about him- and Mariano just point blank said " Kurt is a M.F.'er "

How does a guy like this just pass thru the cracks?
It's one of the dark parts of the BIZ of music I dispise. Obiviously folks heard him, but he should of recorded HIS STUFF as Kurt. I dunno......

All I know is this guy was original- and he was REAL.
I'm glad I had the pleasure of knowing the guys music. After hearing him on bari in 1970...I knew there were other places to take the horn in the music.

Shame.....another voice lost.:( A real great one too.

· Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,243 Posts
If a guy like this woulda played with Elvin or Miles?? WOAH-

I found a cassette of a radio show Kim Richmond had, that he was kind enough to give me a decade ago. On Kurt!! Kurt was big on HARRY CARNEY and knew PEPPER ADAMS well in the 73' point as he lived in NYC for a bit before going to LA.I think Kurt must of turned Pepper on to Lawton now I think about it. Had to! Kurt never played like Pepper; but he had some cool storys on the Kim show about him.

Lots of roots but also he stood for something as a bari player...when he played he created not replicated.After all- jazz is suposed to be a creative art form!

I note how he's never ever rock stuff via sax. After all ZAPPA was rock so was GRAHAM PARKER. Especially cuz he was such a savage player in those idioms.

On the Kim Richmond tape ( a radio interview ) Kurt played TANGERINE and played the most _cliche free_solo I ever heard on a bari. He played tenor too and so much else.....flutes low clarinets. Ya can hear those on most of the Zappa things.

· Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,243 Posts
Steve- Kurt rose above the LA thing as soom as he joined ZAPPA!!!

That was the highest level music- and that was what Kurt was about.
He wasn't out to play RHYTM or ii-v for life and he knew it.He made a statement- BOLD AND PERSONAL...that will stand the test of time way more than someone retro'ing a style. THIS GUY WAS....AN ARTIST.

· Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,243 Posts
saxmanager said:
Thanks so much to Steve and Tim for sharing your experiences playing along side Kurt for all those years. He really deserves more recognition for his contributions to low reed playing and to music in general, but you two have really given us all some wonderful perspective on Kurt and his music that could only have come from people who worked closely with him. My hats off to you gentlemen.
saxmanager- Thank you- but I never worked WITH Kurt- but he was a very great inspirational many were in my Berklee years ( eg- Rick Wald, Victor Brazil, Mike Mandel, Alan Broadbent etc ) Kurt helped me _REALIZE_the more modern stuff I was learing from Mariano or hearing from guys I was enjoying LIVE like John McLaughlin , Joe Farrell and of couse early Chick Corea!! )
Kurt played amazing and modern soprano, I never heard ( then) a guy play soprano with a rubber Berg, and he lit the horn up. ( years later Farrell hipped me to using a stock selmer " G" which I bought in Mannys with Farrell from sax legend Pervis Henson. ) In any case- the guy was something else.

May we all strive to be as ORIGNAL as he was.

· Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
6,243 Posts
Tim Price knows about Kurt McGettrick. Tim vividly remembers Kurt's playing from 30 years ago at the Berklee school. Tim told me today that Kurt struck him as being like an American John Surman. My former roommate on the Lyle Lovett Band, Bobby Eldridge (another monster Bari player), also clearly remembers how incredible Kurt was back when they were playing at Berklee so many years ago.
Kurt was perhaps most notorious for being a member of Frank Zappa's 1988 touring horn section, which spawned the albums "The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life", "Make A Jazz Noise Here", and "Broadway the Hard Way". During his career, Kurt toured and recorded with Graham Parker, and toured with the "Prez Conference" band. Kurt also recorded with B.B. King, Tom Petty, Patti LaBelle, The Meters, Phoebe Snow, and the Ladd McIntosh Big Band. He played on many movie soundtracks, including The Lion King, and Matchstick Men.
Good places to hear McGettrick's work are on Ladd McIntosh's CD's "Temptation", and "Ride the Night Beast". The is the way to play Bari Sax in a modern big band! Kurt's tremendous Bari Sax sound is heard and felt on every song throughout these discs. Kurt's presence in Ladd's band was much like the way in which Harry Carney was such an integral part of the Ellington band's sound. Kurt went to Berklee many years ago to study arranging and composition, but he said that the faculty kept pushing him to play Bari with all the big bands. Kurt generally didn't like to play Bari with big bands because he said so few big band writers wrote good parts for Bari Sax. He made an exception for Ladd McIntosh and he played in Ladd's band for 30 years. Ladd writes exeptional bari sax parts!
- THANK YOU. THis thread needs to stay flowing. Kurt, was more than just a Baritone player, he was a total musician. TODAY, as in any era in jazz etc etc there is just a void of acceptance for those really " steppin up" to the plate of originality.

Over 30 plus years ago I heard Kurt, what kept his name in my mind?
I tell you what!!!! His playing. His approach to a NON-CLICHE based style.
I'm glad at this point in life ( for myself ) that I had _PLAYERS_who were teachers @Berklee ; guys like Charlie Mariano, John LaPorta, Andy McGhee and Joe Viola that were more than just teachers. Guys that would stop you in a solo if you were playing LICKS and bring you to the mat. Stop you and ask you if you intended to " play any more Sears and Roebucks licks? ". lol.

Right now Kurts style, his essence ring true of the era in which he appeared. Guys that were at Berklee with us, like Justo Almario, Victor Brazil, Ero Krovistonian etc were already dealing in the sign posts of getting the music together NOT just regurgiating someones style in a cheesy manner or a popular sound. RIGHT NOW, jazz is loaded with repeater pencils as Prez said. More so a bunch of guys who never had an original thought in their life. Kurt passed any of those issues and stood tall as a VOICE on his horn.

There was a really cool radio show my buddy Kim Richmond gave me that he did on Kurt. ( as well as Bill Perkins) Kurt talked heavily about the influence of Mariano.

At the time I heard Kurt, I had been aware of John Surman. Heard him with
" The Trio" and John McLaughlin. Kurt had the same tools as John.

He was an amazing player, but what about the guys who played with Zappa aside of him?
- ALBERT WING- A killin tenor player who just smokes
- Paul Carman- the inventor of CD metronome.
Guys who should be as popular as Shamus Blake/ Cris Potter etc etc or anyone doing world class stuff.

There are aspects of this BIZ that turn my stomach, the dead ears and frozen minds that only back things that are so trendy that its silly. Yea lets all rally to " BAD PLUS" when they really copped two songs from Rachel Z's live Minneapolis concerts before she recorded them- and so it goes. That ivey divey jivey BIZ that holds nothing but $$$, and then some. That same BIZ that Zappa, or Miles and others resented. Kurt was heard by the " powers that be" when he was with Zappa. He shoulda got air time.

- In a way- I'm glad I am aware of him. Glad he gave me vision on the baritone sax cuz' it helped me. Just like other peers like Ion Muniz, Ray Pizzi, Watts and others did. Bobby Eldridge played with George Russell, also Benson. He should be better known as well, and a sweet cat who knws his horn big time. Always dug him too.

When I think of what Kurt could of recorded, it affects me like this because he should of.

Think about it.......:line6:
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