This is one of my favorite Stan Getz albums, if not the favorite. It’s not going to blow anyone’s mind, because unlike the third stream of Focus, or bossa nova of Getz/Gilberto, or jazz fusion of Captain Marvel (also with Chick Corea, but on electric piano instead of acoustic) – all Getz albums with more recognition – Sweet Rain doesn’t show him taming a new genre and making it his. This is just jazz, pure and simple; jazz with no grand statements that could be mistaken as pretentiousness.
But frankly, Sweet Rain is as good as any of those albums, maybe even better: Stan Getz is perhaps one of the most consistent artists the world has ever seen, able to weave together fat melodies no matter what genre he was playing in, no matter what tempo he was playing in, no matter what age he was, no matter how many drugs were in his system and no matter what illness affected him. In other words, Stan Getz is the constant. The variables are who he’s playing with, and unlike Getz/Gilberto (to use his most famous example), Getz’s not playing with a bunch of no-names that are just there to give the stars background instrumentation; here, he has three musicians who have already proven their worth ten times over, with the exception of Corea, who’s about to. (Let’s not kid ourselves about Getz/Gilberto: there was only two musicians on that album that weren’t interchangeable. Hint: both of them are in the billing and the title.)
There’s not a single weak cut here, and how could there be, when you have Ron Carter as your earthly pavement to stand on, Grady Tate as rolling thunder (especially in the sharp lyricism on the last two tracks) and Chick Corea as the poet’s romantic glorification of rain (and if Chick Corea is the rain, then Stan Getz is the sweetness). I suppose Corea gives himself too much time to solo on “Windows” and it’s kind of directionless and there’s a flaw in the sound that causes Grady Tate’s drums to sound like camera’s flash going off and off between 8:16 – 8:19 on the same song that really ruins the atmosphere of the whole album (I checked; it’s not just my copy).
I mean, does it get much better than the first two songs? Chick Corea’s “Litha” is the more ambitious of the two, constantly shifting in tempo with the rhythm section working hard to get Stan Getz to stumble (with Ron Carter’s bass lines at breakneck speeds coming into play), but Getz never does. Actually, the guy sings some of his melodic and inspired improvisations over top, supported by splashes of color provided by Chick Corea (best moment: when Grady Tate announces the tempo shift at the 1:21 mark, and Stan Getz throws a fireball across the room as the song speeds up). Afterwards, “O Grande Amor” is the album’s shortest song, representing Stan Getz waving goodbye to the bossa nova genre that made him a household name. Most of it is a slow dance, that is, until Stan Getz seems inspired after Chick Corea’s solo, re-entering with a burst energy before the song patters out.