3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not your typical Stan Getz album,
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This review is from: Focus (Audio CD)
Stan with strings? Most jazz fans will blanch at the thought of a respected soloist like Stan getting into musical bed with a string section. For some reason, the whole idea seems unnecessary, if not a little odd. Despite a few misgivings, I think this album 'works' at least in parts, if not as a whole.
As a tenor player Stan needs little introduction. He is a master of his instrument. His solos have a thoughtful, almost meditative approach. No unnecessary notes or showboating, he looks for melody and tone and if nothing else, he achieves that here with playing suggestive of great technique and taste.
The string section provides an interesting back-drop to Stan's efforts. Interestingly, there are some fairly acerbic tunes such as 'I'm Late, I'm Late' and 'Night Rider' in which Stan has to negotiate some fairly tricky rhythmic passages in his soloing. He does this of course without bluster or sounding like he is struggling to keep up. You'd expect some lusher more romantic pieces on an album of this type and you'd be right. Tracks like 'Pan' and 'I Remember When' are rather beautiful - and here Stan fits in very well. Stan can play the stuff with quirky time signatures and fast changing chord sequences , but he is really at home on the ballad material and this is were Stan's tone takes over and caresses the ears.
The album feels like it could and should have been more then a simple sax and strings experiment. Stan is constantly in the forefront and the strings are rather too recessed. Meaning that Stan has no foil to complement or compete against. He is allowed to float around (which he admittedly does to great effect) without the challenge of another soloist to bring out the best in his playing.
'Focus' is a very good album but I'm not sure it's really representative of Stan as an artist. I can't help feel that the whole thing is a little one -dimensional and uniform in mood and texture- which is more of a failing in the compositions than Stan's beautiful playing. If you are new to Stan, I'd look elsewhere to start my acquaintance with the great man. Fans of Stan might want to listen to a sample or two, before buying. As for myself, I have come to really like 'Focus' -especially the slower, more atmospheric tracks but I still can't help but harbour a few doubts about the true worth of the album as a whole.
ps: good remastering.