Jazz Goes to College was the name of a Dave Brubeck album based on music played at various colleges, but was later a BBC series that apparently brought in jazz artists for full sets in a live setting. I was checking out an audio-only concert of Gary Burton from 1976 when I saw a link to this 1966 set and had to check it out.
When I looked into the video I couldn’t find much on the series (even the BBC site lists only this episode!), but they had more info and even some context from Gary Burton!
The two things I noticed immediately were how daring and adventurous my playing was, harmonically speaking, for that time period. More than I would probably be today. And, I got a laugh out of watching Stan and Steve Swallow smoking cigarettes on stage behind me while I played a solo piece. Can’t imagine such a thing happening today, and yet it was normal behavior back then.
One other thought. Only on rare occasion does a musician end up in a group that has a strong group chemistry, where everything just clicks and becomes bigger than the sum of its part, as they say. That group with Stan, Swallow and Roy Haynes and myself was the first for me. The first band where the interaction was just off the charts. After three years with Stan, it was a struggle to leave the band to start my own group. I worried I was walking away from the opportunity of a lifetime. But, it turned out to be the right move after all, and in time I had a few groups of my own that really connected creatively.
The recording is from 1966, and features Stan Getz on tenor sax (Getz gained his greatest popularity for the hit version of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’), Gary Burton on vibraphone, Steve Swallow on bass (he later switched exclusively to electric bass) and the legendary Roy Haynes on drums. It is a great set in an intimate setting and really features each member of the quartet playing at a very high level.
Check out the excellent video: