JJ 02/81: Stan Getz – Live At Midem ’80

Forty years ago, in the presence of Getz's tenor, Dave Gelly lost all sense of a machine operated by breath and embouchure. First published in Jazz Journal February 1981


Stan Getz has achieved the rare feat of keeping up to date while remain­ing true to himself.

The numbers on this album are undeniably contemporary in idiom but quintessentially Getz for all that. There’s no mistaking that lustrous and infinitely flexible sound, the faultless but unshowy technique or the meditative stillness which lies at the heart of his style. So great is his mastery of the instrument that you lose all sense of a machine operated by breath and embouchure and fingers. In his hands the tenor sax­ophone takes on the characteristics of the human voice.

This album, being a faithful record of a single concert, is a good exam­ple of where Getz stands today. Sur­rounded by a band of hugely ac­complished young men he plays with the grace and panache which has made him the despair of other tenor players for three decades, only more so. I doubt whether he has ever played better – differently, but not better.

There is, for instance, the matter of dynamics. Any given 16 bars will reveal more light and shade than any other player can manage in a whole evening. Even a single held note manages to suggest a range of shif­ting emotions, the tone moving from thin and cutting to thick and blowsy and back again.

Stan Getz is not to be compared with any other saxophonist. He is unique in the completeness of his conception, the audacity of his im­agination and the speaking humani­ty of his instrumental voice. In a world where everyone sounds more and more the same he is probably the last of the great originals.

(a) Heart Place; Chappaqua; Autumn Leaves (23.00) – (a) Lady Day; Empty She/Is; (b) Nature Boy (22.59)
(a) Stan Getz (ts); Andy LaVerne (p, elp, syn); Chuck Loeb (g); Brian Bromberg (b); Victor Jones (d). (b) add Paul Horn (fl). Cannes, 23/1/80.
(RCA PL 37417)