I’ve had Mondays off since I started in the hi-fi business 40 years ago. And there was a long stretch, even when I was in Illinois for a while, when I would have a home cooked dinner at my mother’s house more Mondays than not. Those are some of my most cherished memories.
We shared many interests and, of course, a sense of humor. Her laugh was known far and wide. I’d normally arrive around 5:00 and she would be busy with dinner prep, but it was usually something that needed some time, either in the oven or on the stove top, which gave us a delightful gap to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, music and conversation. I would get the gin out of her liquor cabinet, which held not much else save some little used, ancient bottles of various other liquors bought ages ago for guests. Gin was our drink. “Ten dollar Taaka” for her and Bombay for me until one day I forgot to replenish my Bombay bottle and joined her in Taaka. To my utter shock, it was surprisingly palatable. If you are ever in need of a budget gin, there is only one that gets my nod.
We would nibble on the pre-dinner offerings and sip our gins on the rocks with twists of lemon, or, if out of stock, olives. We were ambivalent about some things, but not music. I get my love of it from both my parents, but, if only because my father died when I was 18, more so my mother, and I had set up a nice little stereo rig in her superb sounding living room. We shared lots of music on these Mondays, mostly classical and jazz.
One Monday in the early ‘90’s, there was a CD set sitting out on the side table next to my chair at cocktail time and my mother said, “Oh, have you heard that? Why don’t you put that on?” Stan Getz and Kenny Barron “People Time,” two CD’s live in Copenhagen. Speaking of ambivalence, I was pretty strongly polarized on Stan. Loved his early, post big band work but had no connection to his Bossa Nova period that made him a household word, so had largely fallen out of touch with him after that.
I put disc one into the CD player. And lost my mind. This was one of those rare experiences wherein I was immediately enchanted with a recording and compelled to listen all the way through. I don’t remember what we had for dinner that night or what we talked about, but I do remember my mother casually turning me on to what instantly became a Desert Island Disc for me.
“People Time” turned out to be a two disc culling of Stan’s last performances at the Cafe Montmartre, supported only by the perfectly simpatico piano of Kenny Barron. Over four nights, seven sets. Stan was too spent to come out for the second set the fourth night, and would die three months later of liver cancer. Much to my delight, the entire seven set recording was issued as a seven CD box years later. That’s the one that goes to the desert island with me. I defy anyone to deduce that this is a man 90 days from his last breath.
One of my most fervent hopes is that someone, somehow summons the financial courage to do the whole shebang on vinyl. But until then, just out this year, is a quirky, single LP on Decca Records France (my wrapper said, “Made in Czech Republic”, undoubtedly pressed by GZ Media) that contains four outstanding tracks, although there isn’t a weakling on the entire seven CD set, from “People Time”, as well as two from an earlier quartet performance at the same venue which end Side A, which, like Stan’s Bossa Nova years, just don’t move me to anywhere near the degree the simple duet recordings do.
The four “People Time” tracks are worth the price of admission alone, and by a mile, however. I was initially concerned by the flimsy jacket and the lack of technical info about the mastering and pressing, but Stan’s tenor explodes into my room in a way that leaves the digital versions a little gasping for air, and Kenny’s piano is fuller and richer. It’s a live recording and the ambient sounds from the audience are more vividly realistic, something that, like studio banter between takes, I am an absolute sucker for. I recommend you play Side B first then flip it and play the first track on Side A. After that, I cue it up and put it away. You can do what you want; I don’t wish to break the spell of just Stan and Kenny.
I do wish you a Happy New Year, filled with many wonderful new discoveries, and lots of people time.
Also recently devoured with relish-
50th Anniversary “Abbey Road” remastered LP
Simon Fischer Turner
Tidal and Qobuz stream, and LP
Acony Records (Her own label; she and David bought a cutting lathe.) LP
Gene Clark (familiarly, “White Light”)
Intervention Records LP
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
Tiffany Transcriptions, Volumes 1-10
“The Revenant” soundtrack
Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky
Columbia LP Box Set
Clifford Curzon/Benjamin Britten/English Chamber Orchestra
Mozart Piano Concertos
Decca CD rip