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I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....

SEPARATED at BIRTH - author and the founder of Media Matters, David Brock and New Jersey senator Bob Menendez.


OK, you've been warned - here is this week's tomfoolery material that I posted.

ART NOTES - in honor of his 204th birthday, the exhibit Looking at Lincoln is at the Erie, Pennsylvania Art Museum through April 7th.

LANGUAGE NOTES - the head of the Cervantes Institute - which promotes the use of the Spanish language worldwide, similar to the Alliance Française - will soon announce a new headquarters for the Institute at "a big university in the United States," in an effort to establish Spanish as the second language of international communication.

TUESDAY's CHILD is Caffrey the Cat - an English kitteh who (after a car accident) has only two legs, but gets around and has a loving family.

THERE WILL BE an exhumation of the remains of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda - long believed to have died from prostate cancer in 1973 - to see if the Nobel Prize winner had been poisoned by the agents of Augusto Pinochet, instead.

WEDNESDAY's CHILD is named Baby Cat - an Alabama kitteh a woman battling with cancer had to give up ... until it made its way home, from 15 miles away.

ARCHITECTURE NOTES - a British historian opines that the world's most attractive rail station is New York's Grand Central - celebrating its 100th anniversary this month - and who (like many others) laments that this is also the 50th anniversary of the destruction of NYC's other candidate (the old Pennsylvania Station, that is nothing like the present mediocre one).

ART NOTES - works by the Bauhaus-inspired, Austrian-born painter Herbert Bayer are at the Denver, Colorado Art Museum to July 14th.

ONE OF THIS YEAR'S Academy Award nominees for best foreign-language film is one showcasing the campaign to oust Chile's former dictator General Augusto Pinochet - and the film "No" focuses on the hiring of an .... advertising executive.

SIGN of the TIMES - new regulations in Great Britain will prevent circuses from bringing lions and tigers on travelling shows for the first time ever.  

THURSDAY's CHILD is Susie the Cat - a Scottish kitteh who secretly stowed away in a furniture delivery truck ..... before returning home (some ten days later) by covering 15 miles in the snow.

BACK to the FUTURE - in Germany's Weimar republic days, the composer Kurt Weill supplied the soundtrack to Weimar Berlin. Now, 80 years after he fled the Nazis: Germany is rediscovering him ... with the German-born (and US-based) singer Ute Lemper doing her part to make this happen.

PLANS BY THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina to change the appearance of Avenida 9 de Julio - one of the widest avenues in the world - to accommodate special bus lanes has stirred protests.

SEPARATED at BIRTH - English actor Oliver Jackson Cohen ("Going the Distance", "Faster") and US film star Jake Gyllenhaal.


BOOK NOTES - author Christopher Bonanos compares Steve Jobs as an inventor to Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid.

HAIL & FAREWELL to the former Woodstock, New York town councilman Steve Knight - the keyboard player for the 60's-70's rock band Mountain that performed at the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival (held several miles away in Bethel) - who has died at the age of 77 ..... as well as Tony Sheridan - a musician who collaborated with an early version of the Beatles circa 1961 - who has died at the age of 72, in a hospital in Hamburg, Germany (where the Beatles honed their skills in the early 60's).

FRIDAY's CHILD - is Bob the Cat - an English kitteh who was the subject of a 2012 book by a man who claimed that Bob saved him from substance abuse.

......and finally, for a song of the week ............... someone who - during that (brief) time between Buddy Holly and the Beatles - managed to bring a sweeter style of jazz to the general public was Stan Getz - whose tenor saxophone tone was so distinct that he was known as "The Sound". As a tenor saxophonist, he was inspired more by the lighter tone of Lester Young (than the huskier tone of Coleman Hawkins, the other tenor giant of his era) but developed his own style and took his own place on the list of jazz greats. And he did so in several of the post WW-II branches of jazz (bebop, cool jazz) and then helping to popularize South American music, later .... so that he became known to the general public, as well.

Born in Philadelphia in 1927, his family moved to New York for better job prospects for his father. A music prodigy, he had the good fortune to receive instruction from Simon Kovar - a bassoonist at the New York Philharmonic. In his teens, the advent of WW-II caused many musicians to be drafted (or enlist) in the armed forces and - just as with young baseball players of the era (such as Joe Nuxhall) - this caused a great deal of openings in the remaining big bands of the era for young players to fill.

And so for someone too young to be drafted, a 16 year-old Getz was hired by big bandleader Jack Teagarden - who offered him $70/week to join his touring band. He expected resistance from his parents, but his father surprised him by saying, "Stan, seventy bucks a week! I can't make that in two weeks. And I haven't had a job in a month, anyway." Truant officers intervened, and thus Teagarden had to promise to be Stan's guardian (with his parent's blessing) to ensure he kept up his studies.

This led to stints in Stan Kenton's band (where Stan first developed a taste for heroin) as well as Benny Goodman and - after the war - with Woody Herman's band, where he was one of four saxophonists known as the Four Brothers (with Zoot Sims as one of the others). Early Autumn was a hit song for the Woody Herman band that showcased Stan Getz.

From the late 1940's on, Stan Getz then began to lead his own quartets, where he began winning several magazine popularity polls for his instrument. One aspiring musician he saw while working in Connecticut was Norwalk native Horace Silver - whom he brought on-the-road and even recorded some of the young pianist's tunes.

The 1950's were the height of Stan Getz's mainstream jazz days, and he had several different quartets with guitarist Jimmy Raney, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and pianist Oscar Peterson. As a guest soloist, his playing helped guitarist Johnny Smith have a hit with Moonlight in Vermont in 1952.

His heroin addiction also grew, leading to an arrest for attempted robbery and which helped break-up his marriage. He escaped to Scandinavia at the end of the 1950's, where he began to get clean and returned to the US at the dawn of the 1960's. But after appearing on (what he considered his most ambitious recording, playing on the album Focus by Eddie Sauter's big band) he found that (a) his style of music was now being eclipsed by the folk music boom, and (b) he found his audience had dwindled.

This led to a big break: the guitarist Charlie Byrd took Stan to his home and played him some tapes he brought back from a 1961 State Department tour he made of Latin America, with the sound of the jazz/samba hybrid that was called Bossa nova in Brazil - and told Stan that he couldn't find anyone interested in recording it in America. Stan immediately set-up a recording session in February, 1962.

That album Jazz Samba began selling well in August 1962, with the title track even making the singles pop charts in September and Desafinado following (even more strongly) two weeks later. This led eventually to the recording Jazz Samba Encore!, with one of the originators of Bossa nova, Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá.

Then in 1964 came the release of Getz/Gilberto (a collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto) that was his biggest seller, thanks in large part to The Girl from Ipanema (featuring the airy vocals of Astrud Gilberto) winning the 1965  Grammy for Record of the Year. Getz/Gilberto was named as Album of the Year - the last jazz album to win the award until Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters" some 43 years later in 2008. Although it was short-lived - the advent of the British Invasion ensured that - there was a Bossa nova craze in the USA for several months.

For the remainder of the 1960's, Getz worked with some of the upcoming jazz players (such as Bill Evans and Gary Burton) and even made some recordings in the 1970's in the jazz/rock fusion style (with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke). In June 1978, President Jimmy Carter invited Stan to perform at the White House (to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival) saying, "It's almost worth getting elected president to have a concert done for you by Stan Getz."

In the mid-1980s Getz worked regularly in the San Francisco Bay area and taught at Stanford University as an artist-in-residence at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. During 1988, Getz worked with Huey Lewis and the News on their Small World album: playing the extended solo on the title track (which became a minor hit single). And he later performed often with the pianist Kenny Barron - and developed a modern standard with the Kenny Barron song Voyage in their later years.

But while Stan had kicked heroin years earlier, years of drinking and cigarettes had accumulated. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and cirrhosis, which he managed to deal with for several years before Stan Getz died in June, 1991 at the age of 64.

When Rolling Stone released their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, it included Getz/Gilberto at #447. And in words that came from perhaps the best-loved saxophonist of all: the oft-quoted John Coltrane remark, "We’d all sound like Stan if we could" ... says a lot.


My favorite album he performed on was one recorded just a few weeks before his death in 1991. The nonpareil vocalist Abbey Lincoln recorded a monster of an album You Gotta Pay the Band - which brought together not only Stan Getz but also the pianist Hank Jones (who had played piano on Stan's first record date 45 years earlier) and the bassist Charlie Haden.

And one ballad, the title track to the film Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams - with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and music by Johnny Mandel - is my favorite recorded song of the entire decade of the 1990's. Below you can hear it, with Stan's tenor saxophone solo the highlight of the tune.

Summer wishes, winter dreams
Drifting down forgotten streams
Songs and faces
Smiles and whispers
Come from far away
To visit me this day

Yesterday has come to tea
Sitting here across from me
Dressed in faded flowers
And rambling on for hours...
...and hours; I'd love to stay
But I must leave today


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