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Romantic jazz from a master

Stan Getz: Café Montmartre; Universal Music; Rs 125

STAN GETZ began his career playing swing in the big bands of the1940s. Striking out on his own, leading small groups, he moved into be-bop and then the "cool school" that exchanged a laid-back mood for the frenetic sound of be-bop. His smooth, light tone and lush sound on the tenor saxophone added to the cool feeling and gave him a reputation for romantic jazz. He spent many years in Europe, especially in Copenhagen at the Café Montmartre, from which the title of this album is taken.

All nine tracks here showcase Getz in romantic jazz and are taken from two engagements at the Montmartre, in 1987 and 1991. With only Kenny Barron on piano for company, the latter, just months before Getz's death, shows how well he was performing till the end. On the 1987 recording, they were joined by Rufus Reid on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, playing a secondary role well enough: taking no solos and being quiet, hardly audible, for much of the time. Between them, Getz and Barron share the spotlight roughly evenly. Most numbers start with an intro by Barron, Getz then taking the theme, followed by longish solos by Getz and Barron in turn. Getz frequently improvises on the theme before slipping unobtrusively into his solo improvisation. Both musicians, Getz especially, frequently modulate from soft into loud passages, often quite suddenly. An occasional change of tempo from medium to fast adds to the variety on this excellent collection from a jazz master.

Cream of a Latin-jazz style

Bossa Nova - Soothing Sounds of Brazil; Vol. 1; Universal Music; Rs. 100

BOSSA NOVA, a blend of samba and cool jazz, was created in the 1950s by the pianist-composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and others. Mainstream jazz musicians, especially Stan Getz on tenor saxophone and Charlie Byrd guitar, quickly embraced the genre and enhanced its jazz credentials by placing more emphasis on solo improvisation than some of the Brazilians did.

This collection, fairly representative of the best in bossa nova, features Getz, Jobim, Joao Gilberto (guitar and vocals), Astrud Gilberto (vocals) and Luiz Bonfa (guitar) on several tracks. It also draws on Byrd and other Americans who made occasional forays into bossa nova, including the great Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Wes Montgomery (guitar), and Chick Corea (piano).

Getz, in the company of the Gilbertos, Jobim and Bonfa, contributes famous performances of "Desafinado", "So Danco Samba" and "Only Trust Your Heart", on which he dominates the solos with his warm tenor saxophone, but gets good support from the Gilbertos' beautiful voices, Jobim's virtuoso piano, and Bonfa's and Joao Gilberto's guitars. He also teams up with Chick Corea on "O Grande Amor", on which they trade solos in a bravura performance, and similarly pairs with Byrd on "Samba Dees Days".

Montgomery's guitar shines through an indifferent string accompaniment on "How Insensitive". The pick of the album is Gillespie's famous, robust rendition of "One- Note Samba", on which his trumpet solos including some marvellous be-bop flourishes are punctuated by excellent solos on piano, flute, bass and percussion.


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