If any album by Stan Getz could be termed a sleeper, this one would be it. Released by producer Sonny Lester on his LRC label, and relatively unheralded due to distribution factors or sketchy information, this apparently is a summertime 1969 concert festival performance done somewhere in Italy. A scant few years away from teaming up with Chick Corea for the 1972 Captain Marvel date, this version of the Getz quartet is a dynamic coalition, including pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, all young and extraordinarily individualistic modern jazzmen. Getz sounds as good as he ever did, retaining some of the bossa nova tunes that boosted his rise to super stardom while allowing room for his bandmembers to bring in their own compositions and provide them a solo spotlight. Cowell is especially bold and euphoric, whether by design or his personal will power, displaying immense taste and inventiveness that also served him well during his time as a leader on his pivotal 1969 Black Lion/Arista-Freedom date Traveling Man aka Blues for the Viet Cong. From the opening strains of the title track "The Song Is You," it's clear something special is happening, as an extrapolated intro fueled by Cowell's piano expands the theme before it is settled and stated by Getz. Never straying far from his stylized bossa nova, Getz does four songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim's, anchored by the thick and sinewy basslines of Vitous during "O Grade Amor" and "Summer Night," mixing and matching contrasting implied beats courtesy of DeJohnette, 27-years-old at this time but already defining his signature sound. The drummer also composed the short, sweet, and spontaneous ballad "For Jane," and the multi-directional "Major General," morphing from the pedal point bass of Vitous to swing and bop as tight as can be, the rhythm section charged with kinetic energy. Cowell wrote "Dane's Chant," in a loose-tight churning whirl of 6/8 time inserted in 4/4 similar to a Dizzy Gillespie theme. As this is a Getz led date, you get the expected smooth and rounded tenor which he had developed in the '60s. His quietude is rendered in freer moods for the jazz/bossa medley "Tonight I Shall Sleep/Desafinado," while completely and purposefully restrained on "All the Things You Are." Vitous, at age 22, plays an unaccompanied solo, at times obtuse or harmonically sour, but lithe, quick, and diverse during "Folk Tune for Bass," advanced far beyond his years. The two-minute finale "One Note Samba" features an unattributed vocalist singing in mixed English and Portuguese, sounding similar to Flora Purim, but perhaps an Italian friend of Getz. The Song Is You is a missing link between a less than successful teaming with Bill Evans, and the more modern quartet music Getz played thereafter with Corea, Jimmy Rowles, Joanne Brackeen, or Kenny Barron. It's a very worthwhile item to own if you search for it, well recorded and performed by a group that could collectively be the most purely talented of any you might find who ever backed up Stan Getz.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos