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Stan Getz/Kenny Barron: People Time: The Complete Recordings

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When a jazz musician crosses the boundary of 60, he or she must decide what to do with phrases already played thousands of times. Do you just keep playing them with less and less emotional force? Do you replace them with a whole new bag of tricks? Or do distill your playing like whiskey, getting rid of the superfluous notes so only the highest-proof music remains?

The last four years of Stan Getz’s life were devoted to such a distillation. Five months after he turned 60, the tenor saxophonist brought his quartet to Copenhagen’s Café Montmartre on July 6, 1987. No longer did Getz seem to be exploring for the right notes by sending out search parties in all directions; now he went directly to the right phrase at the right time. The sharp focus was reinforced by the forward push from drummer Victor Lewis, a master of the cymbals; bassist Rufus Reid, a master of melody; and pianist Kenny Barron, a master of turning single-note lines into harmony.

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