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Focus: Remastered Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 May 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B0000047CY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 282,135 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
1
30
8:08
Album Only
2
30
Her
6:10
Play in Library Buy: £0.99
 
3
30
Pan
3:55
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4
30
5:01
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5
30
3:55
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6
30
4:46
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7
30
5:58
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8
30
2:28
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9
30
2:55
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Product Description

Product Description

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It is unlikely that anyone will ever bridge the gap between jazz and classical music with the success that Focus did. Getz regarded it as the most important recording of his life. Eddie Sauter, unique in being first a jazz writer and then a trained classical composer, wrote a series of seven pieces for a small chamber orchestra. He wrote parts for Getz's tenor. Getz wasn't happy with the classical notation and decided to improvise without written music. He had a photographic musical memory and he memorised the music instantly when the chamber group played it through for him. He filled the gaps that had been left for him with the most sublime improvisations that you could imagine. Sauter's writing had been brilliant and the consummation of tenor and chamber group is one of the great moments in jazz. During the period of the recordings Getz's mother died. The chamber unit recorded "Her" in his absence and he came in a day later and improvised to the tape. He obviously had his mother in mind and the result is incredibly moving. The long coda to the piece is one of the most beautiful and heart-stopping passages in the whole of jazz. --Steve Voce

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This album is the only record that Getz made with a string accompaniment. Many other artists have used orchestras and the effects have been variable (usually bad, in my view). Not so with Focus. From the start, this record sets a pace and standard that will leave the listener amazed. I always felt that Getz showed his mastery of the saxophone best on his bossa nova work, although it can get a bit cheesy. Focus has completely changed my view. The pieces throughout the album have a complete and cohesive feel - incredible when you consider that Sauter left gaps for Getz who improvised from start to finish. The pace varies as does his playing, from the dazzling to the meltingly beautiful and every note counts. Getz's distinctive sound suits the music perfectly and his technique outclasses any other tenor player I've ever heard (including Brecker).
The arrangements are powerful in their own right and compliment Getz's playing. The completely improvised drum work by Roy Haynes is also excellent (no drum part was written). I assume that Sauter's background in jazz enabled hime to understand how an improvised lead would fit around the strings. It all works perfectly.
Lots of artists are decribed as being great without any thought about what true greatness is all about. I have always liked Getz, but been more inclined to listen to others such as Zoot Sims and Sonny Rollins. However, this album is so surprising, different and plain superb that I think it demonstrates that Getz was perhaps the greatest tenor player of all. I am mystified that he only ever recorded one record like this.
There are a number of albums that are mandatory in any proper jazz collection and this is one of them.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have to admit I hadn't heard of this disc until I read about it in a review of Claus Ogerman's Cityscape. There is an obvious similarity - both discs feature a solo saxophone against a string background, but for me Focus is clearly superior. Good as Brecker is in Cityscape, Ogerman's arangements just provide a lush cushion of sound without any real interplay with the soloist.
Eddie Sauter's string writing for Focus is much more varied - sometimes deeply romantic, as in Her or I remember When, sometimes surprisingly acerbic as in I'm Late or Pan. And there is real interaction with the soloist, all the more surprising since, according to the liner notes, Getz's performances of all but the first track were added after the string parts were recorded. Sauter's mastery of this essentially classical style is particlarly impressive for someone previously known as an arranger for big bands - Benny Goodman pre war and his joint venture with Bill Finegan in the Fifties.
Getz is of course best known for his later bossa nova discs, but for me this is his supreme achievement. Indeed I would argue, as the Bond song puts it, that in this particular genre not only does nobody do it better, nobody does it half as well.
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By os TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Sept. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Stan Getz had perhaps the most sumptuous tenor sax tone in the history of jazz. The trouble was that on record he could often be accused of skating over the surface in his playing, relying on that tone to disguise the fact that he wasn't really engaged with his material. 'Focus' is however a prime example of what he could do when he got really involved. The music's success is also down to Eddie Sauter's string arrangements, which happily aren't the syrup that clogs up proceedings on some similar dates.

Apparently Getz had little time to prepare for the recording, but that's one of the contributory factors in the profundity of his playing. On the opening 'I'm Late, I'm Late' he's a man inspired, seemingly eating up the difficult musical terrain and coming on with some soul, which in this reviewer's opinion wasn't a quality he showed all the time.

The strings could be a little cloying on 'I Remember When' if it wasn't for Getz's work, which is that of a man bemoaning the limitations of mortality. This can be said without setting off the hyperbole alarm by the way...

Unique not only within Getz's legacy but also within the considerably bigger canon of jazz on record 'Focus' is pretty much timeless.
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