Donald Harrison, Jr. (far left) and the New Orleans Music Interns (photo: Joel A. Siegel)
9. Stan Getz: “Blood Count” (Anniversary!; EmArcy, 1989)
Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count” was the classic showpiece of Getz’s late period. Once a vehicle for Johnny Hodges, it seems in Getz’s hands to have always been intended for the tenor man. This version, recorded live in Copenhagen in 1987, might be the greatest, featuring exquisite accompaniment by the all-star quartet of pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Victor Lewis. Great as they are, though, it’s Getz who remains the focus, with his improvisation both anguished and nostalgic, reaching and resigned. For all that, it’s also quite concise, covering all of its ground in under four minutes. Getz may have made a point of being contemporary, but he never forgot the importance of making a statement cleanly and without excess.
Learn more about Anniversary! on Amazon.