Steve Getz is a storyteller.
"You want to know how ’The Girl from Ipanema’ happened?" he asked, referring to his father, Stan Getz’s legendary recording of the bossa nova-jazz hit with Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto. "My father was over at João’s house one evening, and his wife, Astrud, was doing the dishes and singing this tune, ’The Girl from Ipanema.’ She was just a housewife singing it, and dad turned to João and said, ’She’s got a really good voice. Maybe she can sing 16 bars at the front.’
"João says, ’Absolutely not, she’s my wife. She’s not a professional singer.’
"Well, they made the record. One record, one tune, an instant career - dad was good at that kind of thing."
If Stan Getz, the renowned tenor saxophonist who introduced bossa nova to America with that record, had an ear for recognizing great talent, then it runs in the family.
For more than 30 years, Steve Getz, 54, has been nurturing jazz acts as a producer (he produced eight of his father’s recordings), a talent buyer, music director and agent - as well as playing drums himself - in such esteemed venues as Fat Tuesday, Seventh Avenue South and Lush Life.
The next chapter in this storyteller’s life began Friday, Oct. 17, when he opened the Steve Getz Music Hall and the Stan Getz Memorial Jazz Workshop inside Williamsburg’s io Restaurant.
This new venue is more than just another Blue Note or Village Vanguard. Those clubs are expensive, exclusive and showcase only the established players in the world of jazz. In keeping with his father’s spirit, Getz has orchestrated a new kind of institution. Part concert hall, part community music center, Getz plans to mesh the VIPs of jazz, classical and world music with up-and-coming players together in this 100-seat space, and all for a very reasonable price. (Admission ranges from $5 to $7.50, with minimums between $10 and $15.)
"I want to recreate the jazz clubs of old," Getz said. "A place where people can meet and greet and romance. I’m old fashioned. What can I say?"
Even if the club is reminiscent of Paris clubs of the ’20s or of Village spots in the ’60s, the Steve Getz Music Hall isn’t a nostalgic recreation of those spaces.
"Just because my name is Getz doesn’t mean we’ll just have jazz," he said. "You can’t just have a jazz club anymore. That day is over. You can’t just promote the old war-horses." Getz hopes to cater to a wider crowd.
The headliners, who perform Wednesday through Saturday, include jazz greats like pianist Andy LaVerne as well as world musicians like Mexican singer Tanya Libertad and guitarists Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah.
For Sunday brunch, Getz switches gears to bring Kathleen McGovern’s classical duo, Euridice, to the stage. Monday nights in November, the Modern Guitar Masters program begins, featuring jazz guitarists Vic Juris, Jack Wilkins and Chuck Stevens. Getz hopes to encourage young guitarists from all over New York City to come and interact with these six-string legends.
On Tuesdays, he’ll host the Stan Getz Memorial Jazz Workshop, including "Getzian" acts such as Warren Vaché’s "Swing Seven" Little Big Band.
He describes "Getzian" as, "Lyrical, beautiful tenor saxophonists are going to play, as opposed to a flurry of many notes that don’t mean anything." The elder Getz was famous for playing as mellifluously as his African-American contemporaries, Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.
The hall also holds children’s programs and seminars on various topics related to the music business such as women’s issues in music, putting together a press kit and making demos.
"I wanted to create something to integrate the community," Getz said. "I’m intrigued with these young players who live in Brooklyn."
Asked if ubercool Williamsburg was the right home for this venture, Getz adamantly said yes.
"This is the hip, new community, right? I want to do something off the beaten path, but make it accessible," he said. And while plenty of Williamsburg hipsters took their seats Friday night at the opening, the audience was a mixture of jazz lovers young and old, from across the boroughs.
Io Restaurant is a fitting home for this revisionist music hall. Filled with history - the 104-year-old space once catered to the "sandhogs," the men who tunneled under the East River to make way for the Brooklyn Bridge, according to io co-owner Anthony Fernicola - the restaurant combines vintage tin ceilings and exposed brick with a modern plate glass waterfall. A mixture of old and new Brooklyn, io Restaurant and Lounge is an appropriate home for established and not-yet-discovered musicians to perform.
Steve Getz will be at io each night to introduce the acts himself, wowing the audience with his endless cache of stories, and to evoke his father’s spirit.
"My father asked me in 1976, ’How would you like to play 18 concerts in 23 days in South America?,’" said Getz, adding that his father told him if he couldn’t swing, then he’d put a little money in his pocket and send him home.
"After we played in front of 20,000 people in Caracas, Dad said, ’Son, you don’t play bad for a white man.’"
The Steve Getz Music Hall is located at io Restaurant and Lounge, 119 Kent Ave. at North Seventh Street in Williamsburg. For more information about upcoming performances or to inquire about performing, call (718) 388-3320 or visit the Web site at www.iorestaurantandlounge.com
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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