In the sixties jazz became a way of life.
Published on Jul 2, 2012 by ohbutyes
Stan Getz was known as “The Sound” because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young. Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman’s big band, Getz is described by critic Scott Yanow as “one of the all-time great tenor saxophonists”. Getz went on to perform in bebop, cool jazz and third stream, but is perhaps best known for popularizing bossa nova, as in the worldwide hit single “The Girl from Ipanema”.
Focus was recorded in 1961, featuring Stan Getz on tenor saxophone with a string orchestra. The album is a suite which was originally commissioned by Getz from composer and arranger Eddie Sauter. Widely regarded as a high point for both men’s careers, Focus was described by Getz as his favorite of all his recordings.
As noted in the booklet for the 1997 CD reissue, Sauter’s orchestration did not include melodies for Getz. Rather, Sauter left spaces in the arrangements in which Getz would improvise. Documentation for the recording dates is incomplete, but the CD booklet reports that those involved in the original sessions recall that Getz recorded live with the strings on about half the songs, while he overdubbed sax solos on the others.
The theme of the opening track, “I’m Late, I’m Late”, is nearly identical to the opening minutes of the second movement of Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. Bartók had been an early supporter of Sauter, who intended the track as an homage. “I’m Late, I’m Late” also features drummer Roy Haynes, the album’s only soloist beside Getz.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested “Core Collection” stating “Nobody ever arranged for Getz as well as this, and Sauter’s luminous and shimmering scores continue to bewitch”. Similarly, critic Stephen Cook describes Focus as “admittedly Getz’s most challenging date and arguably his finest moment” Peace Out!