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Stan Getz in Poland

Label: Polskie Nagrania “Muza” L 0329
Released: 1960
Format: 10” LP, mono


his is an album that was not to be. But it is. It was created on the run, because of the Polish side's insistence. It was an expression of the ambition of Polish jazzmen and their record label, Polskie Nagrania “Muza”. It is one of the few studio recordings by Stan Getz, which were created outside the Verve Records label, he was bound with the contract, and with his owner Norman Granz – with friendship. As we read in the Roman Waschko description posted on the cover:

“Polskie Nagrania” proposed to the musician recording of this album understanding the difficulty of implementation of this project. Like all great musicians, Getz is also associated with one company that reserves the exclusive rights to recordings.

The track list includes five of them:
1. The Folks Who Live On The Hill 4:42
2. But Not For Me 6:13
3. Cherokee 5:21
4. Darn That Dream 5:49
5. Out Of Nowhere 7:04

Stan Getz was accompanied with young Polish jazzmen: Andrzej Trzaskowski, Roman Dyląg and Andrzej Dąbrowski. This recording became legendary.

| An album that was not supposed to be

Stan Getz w Polsce has become legendary not because the music it contains is unique. There were several reasons why it became a "cult" album.

All sources name October 31st, 1960 as the recording date, although in reality the album was recorded on November 1 between 3.30 and 6.32 at night in the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, on the occasion of the 3rd International Jazz Festival - Jazz Jamboree 60, when Stan Getz was invited as one of the stars. He turned out to be the brightest one. Getz, already known and recognized master of tenor saxophone, did not play with his band, but with musicians proposed to him on the spot: Andrzej Trzaskowski on piano, Roman Dyląg on double bass and Andrzej Dąbrowski on drums.

Andrzej Trzaskowski was already a well-known pianist, composer and arranger in Poland. Together with his band The Wreckers, he introduced the so-called modern jazz scene to the Polish jazz scene. He played not only modern jazz, but he also tried the so-called "third trend" and free jazz. In 1962, the Americans recognized his talent and invited The Wreckers and Andrzej Trzaskowski for a tour in the United States. The Stan Getz in Poland was his first major release. He established his position in 1965 with the album The Andrzej Trzaskowski Quintet released as a part of the Polish Jazz Series, vol. 4.

The story begins on October 27th 1960, when within Jazz Jamboree'60 Getz plays a jam session at the Hybrydy club, in the company of Trzaskowski and Dyląg, and also Rune Carlsson on drums - a Swede who in 1966, will record, together with Komeda, the icon of Polish jazz, the album Astigmatic, which will ensure his place in history of music. On October 28th Getz played two concerts for the audience gathered in the Philharmonic Hall. They were recorded, however, were not released until 2013, when six of them were used on the Stan Getz/Andrzej Trzaskowski Trio Polish Radio Jazz Archive. No. 1 album. Let me add that the name "Andrzej Trzaskowski Trio" was given in present times, then it was simply a trio accompanying Stan Getz.

Another reason for the "iconic" status of the album is trivial: in spite of the huge advertising, the album sold poorly and the publisher, Polskie Nagrania "Muza", decided to withdraw it from sales and ground almost the entire vinyl edition for the needs of other releases. It is said that there are not more than a few dozen copies left, and their prices are really high – as for this type of record - in top condition copies will cost you up to 400 PLN.

Let's add that the Warsaw concert for a Stan Getz, a man who lived in Denmark for a few years and was during treatment of his heroin and alcohol addictions was a kind of farewell to the "middle" period of his carrier. Soon afterwards he returns to the United States and together with guitarist Charlie Byrd in 1961, he records a jazz classic called Focus, after which he became fascinated with Latin, especially Brazilian music.

Due to processing it using jazz sensitivity, such outstanding albums as: Jazz Samba (1962), Big Band Bossa Nova (1962), Jazz Samba Encore (1963) and Getz & Gilberto (1964), and songs such as: Desafinado and Girl From Ipanema, the latter featuring Astrud Gilberto, Brazilian singer, privately wife of João Gilberto, also having an affair with Getz himself, have gone down in the history of jazz.

These albums started the made the jazz bossa-nova trendy. Suffice to say that the album Getz & Gilberto sold in two million copies. Later, other musicians like Gary Burton and Chick Corea created albums inspired by this one. Stan Getz, whose real name was Gayetsky - his parents came to the USA in 1903 from the Odessa area - died on June 6th 1991.

| Recording

The Biography of Komeda by Magdalena Grzebałkowska is an outstanding position, both due to the reliability of the biography itself, as well as its literary qualities. This is where we will find the description by Roman Washko, supplemented with facts discovered by the author, a precise record of events from October 31, 1960, "a night that became legendary":

October 30th 1960
“Almost all day our musicians put a gentle pressure on Getz”.

October 31st 1960

18.00. “Stan Getz is upset at the hotel bar with his third glass of whiskey. He does not want to record. He did not get a connection with Granz."
18.00. Polish musicians join Getz. A representative of Polish Recordings gives him a contract to sign. Stan refuses, asks for another whiskey. He is determined not to record.
18.50. Monika Getz appears and reviews the contract. She adds a sentence that the agreement will only be valid in socialist countries (after years of recording they will also be released in Germany and Japan - ed.).
19.30. Getz finishes another whiskey and signs the contract. Monika yet again tries to contact the agent in Los Angeles, Unsuccessfully.
20.00. “Getz drinks a lot. He is very upset. He speaks constantly about Granz, about his nobility, his friendship with him and that Granz above all values loyalty. "
22.00. “By car, we go to the National Philharmonic, taking the entire pilzner sack..."
24.00. The connection with USA was almost established.
3.00. No change. Getz won't play until he speaks to Granz.
3.30. Waschko asks Getz to play his favorite song All the Things You Are. "Getz smiles. I see that the ice has been broken. Getz says: "You are a diplomat" - he gets up, asks engineers if they are ready and ... he begins to play."
4.00. The recording session continues. Monika Getz sleeps on the floor.
6.32. The end. 32 minutes of music has been recorded.
A month later, Stan Getz notifies Jan Borkowski that Norman Granz agreed to produce an album recorded in Poland [...]. Getz thanks for his time in Poland and one of the most rewarding weeks in his life.

Magdalena Grzebałkowska, Komeda. Osobiste życie jazzu, Kraków 2018

The recordings were made by Antoni Karużas (recording director) and Janusz Pollo (sound operator). Both of them did a lot of good for Polish jazz as well as - and perhaps above all - classical music. Their presence in the Philharmonic is connected with the establishment in 1954 within the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw of a the Department of Music Directing. Its creators were Antoni Karużas and Janusz Urbański. The first graduates completed school it in 1958.

Due to the high level of teaching, recordings made in Poland were of high quality. Suffice to say that Janusz Urbański was honored with the Fundacja im. Kusewickiego in New York Award and received the "Grand Prix du Disque" award six times from the Charles Cros Academy in Paris and the Philips award in Eindhoven, and Antoni Karużas was the winner of the "Grand Prix du Disque" several times.

In the same year when the Stan Getz in Poland was recorded, in the very same Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Mr. Urbański registered the inaugural concert of the 6th International Fryderyk Chopin Competition. Artur Rubinstein was the soloist. These recordings were only released twenty years later and this was probably the only case when the maestro's albums was released by any other recording label than RCA Victor (Polskie Nagrania "Muza" SX 1861). And six years later, in 1966, in the same place, in an studio improvised hastily at the Philharmonic, the last jazz album by Krzysztof Komeda Trzciński, Astigmatic, will be recorded as "hundred", that is, without overdubs.

Getz' Polish album was released in a monophonic version. Although the idea of stereo sound was known since the 1920s, and the first successful recordings were made in Germany in the 1940s, the first gramophone record with stereo recording prepared by the American Audio Fidelity, was released in November 1957. In Poland, stereo records era began even later. As reported by the “Jazz” music magazine in April 1962, Polskie Nagrania released the first disc with stereo recording at the end of 1960 and it was a "test" album (STXL 001).

Already, however, since 1959, Polskie Nagrania had a stereo recording equipment at their disposal with Telefunken tape recorders. They made stereo recordings as a sort of “safety” copy" Thanks to that, many years later, we could get to know stereo version of the Andrzej Kurylewicz Quintet Go Right, and in 1991 also a digital version of the recordings from the album that is the protagonist of this text.

There are five tracks on the album, although we know that more were recorded. The selection was made by Getz himself - Roman Waschko writes about it in the note placed on the record's cover, it is also confirmed by Krystian Brodacki. Waschko also says that the musician listened to the tape after a few days, and that means he had to take copies of them with him to Denmark. It would be an extraordinary event if someone found them and released the full session!

| Release

The record with the catalog number L 0329 has a diameter of 10" (25cm). It was pressed at the factory of Polskie Nagrania, the former Muza pressing plant. It utilized mainly pre-war machines that were on the verge of collapse. The company called Zakłady Fonograficzne "Muza" was founded in 1947 on the basis of a pre-war company of the same name. A year later, they were transformed into Warszawskie Zakłady Fonograficzne. Because they did not have a tape recorder, the recordings were made on 78 rpm wax plates. In 1955, the company was transformed into Polskie Nagrania (Polish Recordings) and began releasing fine-groove records, i.e. ones as we know them today. In 1956, the production branch was merged with the publishing one and that's how the biggest Polish publisher, Polskie Nagrania Muza, was establish.

Discs with the "L" prefix denoted the 10'' diameter, that could fit about 35 minutes of recording, divided between two sides. The catalog Polish jazz discography 1955-1972 states that, apart from the basic album, there was also a single with the catalog number SP-58. As it reads, one side contains the The Folks Who Live On The Hill track by Getz with the Polish rhythm section and the second C Jam Blues performed by Jerzy Matuszkiewicz Swingtet.

The cover of the album is not particularly attractive and it looks like it has been prepared "generally" without knowing what was on the record. You can guess that it was assumed that it would be a jazz band - there are instruments used in this type of recordings, such as drums, piano, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and double bass, but also an accordion. The whole looks like it has been prepared with the help of watercolor paints. After almost sixty years the colors are faded, but perhaps the problem is the passage of time and poor quality paper. The advantage is that the cover was lacquered. We do not know who is responsible for the cover project, we only know the initials: A.J, displayed in the lower right corner.

The name of the leader and at the same time the name of the album have been entered into the circle of the drum. On the left side there is a logotype informing that it is a mono recording, and the correct speed is 33 1/3 rpm. In the right upper corner there is the logo of Polskie Nagrania "Muza" in the version used in the period of 1956-1968. In the back there is an essay by Roman Waschko, a radio editor, organizer of jazz concerts at the Warsaw Philharmonic, then president of the Polish Jazz Federation and an editor of a regular column on jazz in Sztandar Młodych.

As we know, he was present during the recording session of the album. In addition to the staff and tracks titles, we will not find there any information about the recording location and people who were responsible for it. We will find these information only on the 1991 first stereo re-edition. The record label is characteristic of this period - dark blue with a silver print.

| Sound

Getz's record was played and recorded "on the knees", it can not be described otherwise. Musically it is a show of one actor, with the accompaniment of the others. The Polish trio plays in a very nice, really good but conservative way. The leader is Getz and he draws attention with his performance. The exception is the introduction to Darn That Dream, the track opening the other side of the album, in which Trzaskowski shines, and the short solo by Dyląg in the middle part stands out too. The record has a slow pace, perhaps due to the sea of alcohol drunk by a visitor from abroad, maybe because of the late-early hour of recording, or simply because of Getz's mood at the time.

The sound was also set "for" the saxophonist. The sound of his instrument is big, nice, smooth. It's really good sound engineering and for the quality of the pressing the whole sound very well. The leading instrument is placed at the front, and the accompanying trio is quite far behind, surrounded by a lot of air in the Philharmonic Hall. The whole record's volume level is fairly low. But it is a very good recording that shows how the most important for Polish jazz recording will sound like until – say - the second half of the 1960s. What was really caught on the tape we could hear, however, only thirty-one years later.

| Re-issues

Recordings from the 1960 session were released seven times, of which one was the original edition, and one time it was a free edition accompanying a press release. As we said, the disc originally had the form of a 10" record with mono recording. Five years later, the Polskie Nagrania re-issued the title, but already in LP 12" format, although still with mono sound. The cover, in fact completely anonymous, was designed by Rosław Szaybo. Interestingly, the album had the same catalog number as the original, but the cover was already of a new type. I know it only in the Russian language version.

Polskie Nagrania PNCD148, 1991 | We had to wait for a full re-edition until 1991, when the Polskie Nagrania re-issued it in the form of both LP (SX 3007) and Compact Disc (PNCD148) as well as a cassette (CK 1189). They changed not only the cover, this time presenting a photo by Marek Karewicz, but also the title - from now on it was Stan Getz in Warsaw. The justification for these changes could have been the addition to the five basic tracks of two more, recorded live in 1974, when Stan Getz visited Poland again. The producers of this release were Mr. Andrzej Karpiński and Tomasz Kutyło. Mr. Karpiński was a director of recordings from 1974.

This album had no luck for the graphic design - the original unremarkable, the 12" version from 1965 was sold in the replacement envelope of Polskie Nagrania, and the first digital re-edition was not much better. And it should have been - Marek Karewicz was responsible for the project, whose photos were used on the cover and in the insert. The essay by Krystian Brodacki was very interesting though. An interesting fact - because in Poland there was no CD pressing plant at that time, the disc was actually made in Hungary.

The stereo version is, in my opinion, much more convincing than mono one, it is very realistic and natural. It is not that the signal was mixed separately for the mono version and separately for the stereo version, but simply the former was the sum of the channels from the master version - and this was the stereo one. The digital edition of Polskie Nagrania, despite the passage of time, is simply outstanding.

The cymbals are dense, powerful and full - better than in most Polish Jazz recordings from the second half of the 1960s and the 1970s. The double bass has no clear contours, but the more it resembles what we know from live performances. Trzaskowski's piano is located in the middle, at a distance. Getz saxophone has a large volume, it is dense and nice sounding. Same as the piano, you can hear it with a great reverb of the room, so it's not an "on-the-face" sound. It's a great recording, surprisingly good!

Norma NLP2010, 1993 | I am curious, what material was used by people who released the album in Japan - yes, material from 1960 was also released in the Land of the Blossoming Cherry. The 12" record was released by Norma in 1993, and it was produced by Tokuma Music Comunications (NLP2010). The important thing is that it was a stereo recording. I know very little about this record label, except for the fact that it published Polish music in Japan, including two 10" records with Komeda's music. Interesting fact - a Compact mini LP Disc was also released at the same time.

The cover was changed, although it referred to the original - there were drawings of instruments on it, similar to those from the first edition, only in the red and black color scheme. On the second side there was a note of Roman Waschko from the original release, and the album consisted of only five original recordings. This is one of the most sought-after records with Polish jazz music.

Gambit Records 69303, 1998 | The next version was released in 1998, when Gambit Records proposed an album titled Stan Getz Quartet “In Poland 1960" (69303). This time there are as many as ten tracks, because apart from original five from 1960, one of Koseinkin Hall Tokyo (Japan) from July 18th 1965, two from Hotel Rama in Bangkok (Thailand) from November 11th 1967 and two from Gothenburg (Sweden) from April 6th 1970, were added. I do not even have to add that the graphic design has been changed. The album was re-issued in the same form by the successor of Gambit Records, the company 'In' Crowd in 2014 (996686); there are additional tracks on the album as well.

I do not know exactly how this label operated, but it looks like they released recordings with expired copyrights. Perhaps this is why the photographs of Mr. Karewicz reprinted from the Polish Recordings release have not been signed, nor are there any information about the sound directors and producers of individual tracks. We only know that the Polish session was "professionally recorded" and the rest were "amateur recordings". On the cover there is a photo of Getz from his late years, which is why it does not refer to the recordings contained therein.

The Gambid Records re-issue contains a stereo material, so it is not a copy of an analog edition. It seems that it is simply a version of Polish Recordings, only of worse quality. The sound is more one-dimensional and flat. The worst from this transfer came sheets and double bass out - the former have lost their density and differentiation, and the latter has a flat attack, zero naturalness known from the Polish edition. This is a really poor version of the Stan Getz album in Warsaw, which only makes sense because of additional tracks. These are, however, only historical, because they are amateur recordings of a very bad sound quality (mono).

Polonia Records POLONIACD152 | Also from 1998 comes the release of Polonia Records (POLONIACD152) under the title Stan Getz Jazz Jamboree 60, which included five original tracks, albeit in different order, and three recordings by Ptaszyn Wróblewski. The information on it shows that it is a copy of a vinyl record, that's why we will not discuss it further.

Polskie Radio PRCD 1567, 2013 | However, it was not until 2013 that we were offered the most extended version, extended although not in the direction I wanted - the No. 1 release of the Polish Radio Jazz Archives series included nine tracks recorded during the Getz live performance on November 30th 1960 at the Warsaw Philharmonic (PRCD 1567) and only as a bonus one finds three tracks from the album Stan Getz in Poland.

This is the first edition that I could call "nice" looking. Black and white photography by Karewicz, well-chosen typography and its color, as well as the logo of the "Polish Radio Jazz Archives" series result in a neat whole. The person responsible for this project was Andrzej Brzezicki, and mastering was done by Mr. Tadeusz Miecznikowski. Unfortunately, the edition is very poor - it is the simplest digipak with a stiff cover and no booklet. And yet it was the perfect opportunity to prepare a booklet with pictures from Jazz Jamboree '60.

The Polskie Nagrania did a good job with this release - both in terms of historical and sonic perspective. The historical one is clear - this is the first professional edition of Getz concert from Warsaw. One can perfectly hear that he was a musician who performed best on stage and in this case on stage with three Polish musicians. The studio recording compared to the concert one is polite, calm, as if Polish musicians were afraid of "over-leaning", and Getz often had to rest.

In terms of sound quality, the new mastering is much closer to the Gambid Records release, meaning it has a lot of treble and bass. I think that the double bass was particularly well presented here, while on all previous editions it was a bit "box-like" and not very clear. Here, at last, it sound includes a full box, it is clear and melodious. The other instruments, however, do not convince me.

It seems that a stronger compression was used than on the 1991 edition, which brought the saxophone and piano closer, reducing the amount of reverberation. However, I lacked firmness, some "truth" that so impressed me in the version of Polskie Nagrania. So despite the fact that the new master is more precise, you can hear the progress in digital technology, I still prefer the Stan Getz in Warsaw from 1991. And I will listen to the Polish Radio Jazz Archives album for the concert tracks - it's mono sound, but - when it comes to saxophone - very nice, very real. Only drums are poorly presented.

| Here comes an album…

This is a special recording - I hope that now you can see it clearly. Although nothing indicated it. Its status was made up of various elements, in which the most important was the fact of the jazzman from the world's top recording an album in Poland. As Krystian Brodacki wrote:

It is not that this first contact with the saxophone genius, with the heights of jazz art, has had a huge impact on everyone, but about a certain aspect of this visit - he was the first such prominent musician from the USA who decided to give live performance with the Polish rhythm section.

Andrzej Trzaskowski in the re-issue of the Stan Getz Quartet… from 2008 wrote:

Getz had a special gift that only eminent virtuosos have - the absolute power over the instrument. His saxophone moved around the vast world of unpredictable invention. Each, even the tiniest note, jumped from the instrument perfectly polished and beautifully colored.

The second element is the low availability of the records in good condition. First, there are only a few copies left in the market, and secondly - those that survived were played on extremely primitive turntables. On the Polish market, mainly rigid turntables GE-56 were available, usually mounted on radios or in a suitcase. On the basis of the latter, the popular "Karolinka" was created, and in the 1960s the Bambino model.

Thanks to this we are dealing with a real rarity being part of Polish history and culture, which is the first signal that the Polish Jazz series will "break out" in Poland soon.

| Bibliography

  • Andrzej Patlewicz, Stan Getz / Andrzej Trzaskowski Trio - Polish Radio Jazz Archive, “JazzPRESS”, April 2013, see HERE, accessed on June 3rd 2018
  • Dionizy Piątkowski, Stan Getz – Giganci Jazzu – Agora,, accessed on June 3rd 2018
  • Konrad Widelski, Pierwsza polska płyta stereofoniczna, “Jazz”, April 1962, p. 14
  • Magdalena Grzebałkowska, Komeda. Osobiste życie jazzu, Kraków 2018
  • Marek Cabanowski, Henryk Choliński, Polska dyskografia jazzowa 1955-1972, Warszawa 1974
  • Mateusz Torzecki, Okładki płyt, Poznań 2015
  • Michał Majczak, Te fajerwerki, o których się opowiada, to wszystko niestety ja. Rozmowa z Andrzejem Dąbrowskim,, accessed on June 3rd 2018
  • Roman Waschko, Jazz od frontu i od kuchni, Kraków 1962