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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1058



1. I'm Late, I'm Late
2. Her
3. Pan
4. I Remember When
5. Night Rider
6. Once Upon a Time
7. A Summer Afternoon
Stan Getz - Tenor sax
Eddie Sauter - Composer, arranger
Alan Martin, Gerald Tarack, Norman Carr and others - Violins
Jacob Glick and others - Violas
Bruce Rogers and one other - Cellos
Unknown pianist
John Neves - Bass (?)
Roy Haynes - Drums (track 1)
The Soft Swing
8. All yhe Things You Are
9. Pocono Mac
10. Down Beat
11. To the Ends of the Earth
12. Bye Bye Blues
Stan Getz - Tenor sax
Mose Allison - Piano
Addison Farmer - Bass
Jerry Segal - Drums
West Coast Jazz
13. East of the Sun
1. Four
2. Suddenly It's Spring
3. A Night in Tunisia
4. Summertime
5. Shine
Stan Getz - Tenor sax
Conte Candoli - Trumpet
Lou Levy - Piano
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Shelly Manne - Drums
Cool Velvet
6. The Thrill is Gone
7. It Never Entered My Mind
8. Early Autumn
9. When I Go, I Go All the Way
10. A New Town is a Blue Town
11. `Round Midnight
12. Born To Be Blue
13. Whisper Not
14. Good-Bye
15. Nature Boy
Stan Getz - Tenor sax
Russell Garcia - Arranger, conductor
Blanche Birdsong - Harp
Dave Hildinger - Vibes
Jan Johansson - Piano
Fred Dutton- Bass
Sperie Karas - Drums


All the reissues from the Avid label are interesting because they offer a good portion of jazz for a bargain price. But this double album is particularly interesting because it contains two contrasting albums which Stan Getz recorded with a string orchestra. The first of the two - Focus - is one of Stan's masterpieces, largely thanks to the compositions and arrangements by Eddie Sauter.

Sauter had written arrangements for Red Norvo, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman before becoming briefly popular for the recordings he made in collaboration with Bill Finegan in 1952. But Focus (1961) was perhaps his most stunning achievement, accompanying Stan Getz's tenor sax with a string ensemble. Sauter's originality can be measured by comparing this LP with the album Cool Velvet which also backed Getz with strings. The latter used fairly conventional arrangements by Russell Garcia. Many jazz artists had recorded with strings - notably Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday - but Eddie Sauter raised the bar by creating arrangements which were not only a perfect cushion for Stan Getz but often remarkably thrilling.

For instance, I'm Late, I'm Late has dynamic strings accentuated by Roy Haynes' electrifying drums. Stan's saxophone soars above the strings, which convey an unstoppable sense of hurry. By contrast, Her uses strings and piano to conjure up a mood of poignant love. But the outstanding track is probably Night Rider, a hectic journey hastened by the pizzicato strings and Stan's implacable tenor. The string writing here is reminiscent of Dag Wiren's Serenade for Strings.

Compare the cogent string writing on this LP with that on Cool Velvet (recorded in Germany with European musicians), where the arrangements are more romantic. The benefit is that it leaves more space for Stan Getz's warm tone to come through lyrically in a series of predominantly slow numbers. The drawback is that the performances come across as less jazzy. Even Round Midnight seems like mood music, without the bite of jazz. Whisper Not is the only track with a total jazz feeling.

These two orchestral LPs bookend two other albums in which Stan leads small groups. The Soft Swing from 1957 puts Getz in a quartet which includes the pianist Mose Allison, better-known as a singer who accompanies himself at the piano. Here he does a good job as accompanist as well as soloist. The mood is generally low-key, with Stan leaving lots of space between phrases in his improvisations. Stan's own Down Beat injects some hotter swing into the proceedings.

West Coast Jazz from 1955 puts Getz with trumpeter Conte Candoli, whose solo inserts some of Dizzy Gillespie's own phrases into A Night in Tunisia. Summertime is so often played as to be hackneyed but Getz's tender tenor makes it fresh. And he produces a fierily sparkling introduction to Shine.

This compilation usefully shows Stan Getz in a variety of settings, but the whole album is worth buying for Focus alone.

Tony Augarde

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