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Stan Getz: Bossas and Ballads: The Lost Sessions

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Beginning with Voyage in 1986 and ending with 1991’s People Time, Stan Getz recorded some of his finest music with pianist Kenny Barron, whom he called “the other half of my musical heart.” Up until now, there have been five superb albums documenting that special relationship. The recent release of Bossas and Ballads: The Lost Sessions, containing music that was recorded in 1989 but not issued at the time for business reasons, adds one more sterling example.

The “bossas” in the title are five engaging Barron tunes, while the “ballads” are Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes,” Thad Jones’ “Yours and Mine,” Russ Freeman’s “The Wind” and Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice,” although the last is taken at a medium-groove tempo. On each tune, Getz produces a sound that is as gorgeous as at any time he achieved in his career-pure and emotion-filled. And his lyrical ideas continuously overflow with the ease afforded by his celebrated mastery of time and his instrument.

Barron, who at Getz’s insistence received equal billing on People Time, qualifies for that status here as well. His long, tuneful lines, with their faultless rhythmic placement, fit ideally with the leader’s own musical sensibility. With drummer Victor Lewis and bassist George Mraz also having accompanied Getz for several years, ensemble cohesion is a given. Lewis consistently plays with exquisite taste while Mraz contributes rock-solid time articulated with a magnificent tone.

Much earlier, in January of 1972, following a couple of years of semiretirement in Europe, Getz had begun an engagement at New York’s Rainbow Room with a new band of younger players consisting of Chick Corea on electric piano, Stanley Clarke on bass, Tony Williams on drums and Airto Moreira on percussion. A huge success at the room, the group subsequently recorded five Corea originals and Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” for an album released as Captain Marvel. It too was enthusiastically received. Permeated by Latin flavors that were enhanced by the electric piano and percussion, Corea’s tunes tended to be complex and present formidable rhythmic, harmonic and formal challenges to an improviser. The masterful Getz made it all sound easy. He was fiery and intense on the up tunes but ruminative and lyrical on the ballad. The rhythm section, minus Williams and with Moreira on drums, was soon to serve as the nucleus of Corea’s band Return to Forever, and they were in top form here, with Corea creating spectacular improvisations at even the fastest tempos.

This reissue of Captain Marvel contains three new tracks: alternate takes of “Captain Marvel” and “Five Hundred Miles High,” along with slow-moving “Crystal Silence,” which didn’t appear on the original. For Getz’s beautiful tone and his poignant rubato explorations, the latter track alone would be worth the price of the CD.