PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Stan Getz: Captain Marvel [remastered]

Marshall Bowden

Stan Getz

Captain Marvel [remastered]

Label: Legacy
US Release Date: 2003-08-05
UK Release Date: Available as import

By the time Stan Getz recorded Captain Marvel with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams, and Airto Moreira, he had been in the music business for nearly thirty years, and was widely revered as world-class jazz musician with a unique tenor sax voice. Getz began his career during the big band era, and cut his teeth with bandleaders as diverse as Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman. A leader of swinging small groups throughout the '50s, Getz spent some time in Europe following a career disruption caused by long-standing drug problems. He returned to the U.S. in time to help sustain the Brazilian jazz-bossa craze, recording a series of albums with Joao Gilberto and wife Astrud Gilberto that remain among the most popular jazz recordings of all time. Getz continued to work and record at home and abroad throughout the 1960s, but by the end of the decade and the start of the next, things were changing rapidly. Traditional post-bop jazz was on the ropes, and there were a lot of new sounds in the air, many of them thanks to Miles Davis and his amazingly talented coterie of young sidemen. Getz was interested in putting together a new book of tunes for his return to New York following a European stay.

Chick Corea, a young pianist who had cut his teeth with Miles Davis's first electric bands, recorded a couple of amazing trio dates under his own name, and then moved on to form the avant-garde improvisational group Circle, was in the process of writing for and forming a new band that would be known as Return to Forever. The group would expand on Davis's moves toward electric music and musical forms that communicated more directly with the listener than the abstract jazz of the late 1960s. Corea and Getz crossed paths, and the idea of forming a quintet with Getz took hold. Corea brought along percussionist Airto Moreira and 20 year-old bass phenom Stanley Clarke. Rehearsals began, but according to the original liner notes by Albert Goldman, the project wasn't quite jelling until Getz brought in drummer Tony Williams. Corea's reminiscences in the new liner notes suggest that he brought the entire group to Getz, which makes sense since Corea and Williams had known each other for some time, even before they played together with Miles. In any event, the band worked out the arrangements and opened at New York City's Rainbow Room to wild acclaim and lines of potential listeners outside. Following the engagement, that group went into the studio and recorded Captain Marvel, long acknowledged as one of the best jazz recordings of the '70s and a return to form for Getz. Sony Legacy has now reissued the album, remastered and with three additional tracks that only add to the album's legendary status.

Corea composed five of the six tracks on the original album, and that fact says much about both Corea as a composer and Getz as a mature artist who knew talent when he heard it. There are many other artists who would not have felt comfortable recording the compositions of another, younger musician and allowing their young band so much room on something of a "comeback" album, but Getz was never an artist subsumed by ego, preferring instead to do whatever was necessary to provide the best musical experience possible. It also didn't hurt that the pieces themselves had a heavy Latin flavor, which lent itself well to Getz' propensity for rhythmic improvisation, nor that Corea's soaring melodic lines allowed Getz the opportunity to utilize his beautiful, romantic tenor tone in their service.

"La Fiesta" became a mainstay, not only in Return to Forever's book, but in the books of virtually every big band out there. Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman had arrangements, as did every small working jazz ensemble at the time. Alternating between a paso doble and a bright, major-key melody that is as catchy as a Top-40 pop song, it's an irresistible piece that instantly creates goodwill between musicians and audience. Clarke roams at will across the lower range of the group's sound while Williams keeps the pace with an almost unbelievable energy, fusing the vigor of flamenco and the unexpected accents of bebop with the exciting drama of rock.

Corea's Fender Rhodes work is transcendent on the entire album. The only musician with as fully developed a conception of the electric piano was Herbie Hancock, but the way the two pianists approached the instrument was worlds apart. To Corea the instrument's very sound connoted magic, and the fullness and beauty of the tones he wrings from it could not have been done with an acoustic piano. He's the perfect foil for Getz, both supporting him and driving him forward without ever becoming intrusive. The first bonus track, a performance of the Corea ballad "Crystal Silence", shows how this new electric instrument could profoundly expand the language available to jazz keyboard players. In the wrong hands, of course, it could be cloying, but Corea is one of the best to ever play the instrument. The alternate versions of "Captain Marvel" and "Five Hundred Miles High" show that this band was creating at a high level, and that the improvisation undertaken by Getz and Corea, in particular, was everything that jazz music had ever been and should be. In short, the fact that Getz was recording with a group of musicians who were leading jazz in the direction of fusion did nothing to alter his distinctive style. Though he was updating his sound and using the music of the day as a springboard, he was in no way attempting to merely do something that seemed fashionable at the time. Captain Marvel was a Stan Getz album because Getz was the nominal "leader" and the only horn player here, but ultimately this was a collaborative album by a group of musicians who were highly attuned to each other, and that is why the album has endured, and still sounds fresh today, some thirty years since it was recorded.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.