‘Sampaguita, Pretty Flower Sampaguita’

sampaguita flower 2

It was 1978 in London and Graham was doing an album at Pye Studios. In the studio were: Godfrey Wang on piano, Nigel Martinez on percussion, Colin Pincott, guitar, Robbie Tate on drums, Yusuf Allie also on guitar and Delisle Harper on bass guitar. Says Graham, “They were all top musos”. They’d spent two days recording and were now mixing and tracking solos. Howard Barrow, who ran the studio department at Pye, came into the control room and said, “Got someone recording in the other studio, do you mind if he comes in and listens to your music”? Graham indicated, ‘no problem’ and the guy, an American, came in and sat down unobtrusively in the corner. They were doing a latin number written by Graham and Jack Keller called ‘Sampaguita, Pretty Flower Sampaguita’, named after the Philipino national flower. It had already been recorded by Moacir Santos – a Brazilian jazzman – on his album ‘Carnival of the Spirits’ in March 1975 and featured Jerome Richardson, Harvey Mason and Dean Parks amongst others. The album became popular on the London jazz scene, which was where Godfrey Wang, a top jazz pianist, heard it. Says Graham, “As my friend Godfrey knew it, we decided to include it on the session in 1978″. The ‘unobtrusive’ American guy stayed for about twenty minutes or so , then said, “Like the track very much, thanks for letting me listen”, then left the studio. Godfrey, cool as ever, leaned over to Graham and said, “Don’t you know who that is”? Graham shrugged. “That’s Stan Getz”, he added. “Stan Getz, no”! Graham said in disbelief. Then it occurred to him that Stan might like to put a solo on the track. He took off to Howard Barrow’s office. “Don’t even think about it”, Howard’s voice was heard shouting adamantly. “Or you’ll never use this studio again”. So that was that. Back in the control room Godfrey mused, “These jazzers, you know, if they like it, they’ll do it” and he and Graham were left to ponder over how good it would have been to have Stan Getz on the track.

A decade later in Malibu, California, Graham was working on a place that had Arab stallions, run by a woman who was into healing horses. Says Graham, “One day she said, ‘I’ve got a neighbour who’s very sick. I’m going to see if I can help him at all’. We went round there and it was Stan Getz who opened the door. He looked rather frail – so I didn’t mention the incident in the studio”.

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