Nutmegging This Up

Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State

Stan Getz and J.J. Johnson – At the Opera House (1957)


Stan Getz, tenor saxophone and J.J. Johnson, trombone

(Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Connie Kay)

Verve MGV-8265 – deep groove mono pressing on “trumpet player” label, first pressing?

Found at Merle’s Record Rack, Orange, CT in 2012


I first got into jazz early on in high school, when one of my band directors lent out a small library of about 50 CDs of various jazz classics.  I couldn’t take them home fast enough, and eventually I started to make regular visits to the public library.  I found this album early on and felt the energy of the live performance almost instantly.

I had been playing euphonium since the fifth grade but had picked up the trombone at the beginning of ninth grade for participating in jazz ensemble.  J.J.’s ability to play with such tight fluidity was impressive but not overwhelming – his ideas are logical and use the perfect amount of repetition.  This original pressing (as far as I can tell…all that’s in the matrix is the same catalog number listed on the label) plays loud and tight – J.J. in particular is punchy without losing the roundness of his tone and the consistency of his articulation.  It’s ultimately my favorite J.J. recording.  As for the other headliner, Stan Getz eclipses any feeling in my mind that he is a smarmy saxobimbo (okay, he’s got major chops, I’m not being fair).  And look at that rhythm section – Oscar Peterson loses a little of his dazzle by being (at least in my mind) a backup band member, Ray Brown plays full throttle, Connie Kay skitters on cymbals, and Herb Ellis is apparently on this record (I haven’t noticed ANY guitar on this…I’ll have to go back and listen again.


Here’s the interesting thing:  this album was technically recorded twice.  The stereo and mono versions are the same tunes, but in performance at completely different concerts.  Most of what I fell in love with was the stereo concert, but some of the mono material was provided as bonus tracks on the CD.  Still, I’m less familiar with these versions, so I’m glad to have something that’s new yet familiar to me.  Now, however, the stereo version is out there for me to track down…


3 comments on “Stan Getz and J.J. Johnson – At the Opera House (1957)

  1. LondonJazzCollector
    November 2, 2012

    Yo! A bit of competiton. Great!….no really.
    Congratulations on getting your blog up to speed. Keep it coming.

    • pgiampi1
      December 18, 2012

      Thanks LJC. Any chance that NTU is worthy of your blog roll?

  2. Joe L.
    December 30, 2012

    This record cooks!

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