Stan Getz was a genius of the tenor saxophone. He played alongside Jack Teagarden, his tutor (1943), Bob Brookmeyer (who saw in him “the greatest instinct of any jazzman I ever met”), Lou Levy, who showed no less praise in calling him “The tenor’s Jascha Heifetz”), not to mention Stan Kenton (1944), Jimmy Dorsey or Benny Goodman, even before he joined the ranks of the “Four Brothers” sax section in Woody Herman’s orchestra (1947).
Within two years, Getz had written Early Autumn (1948) and Long Island Sound (1949), which instantly made him a figurehead of Cool jazz. He succumbed to the temptations of illegal substances, and then redeemed himself by recording Focus for composer Eddie Sauter (1961), just as the Bossa Nova wave was breaking over the U.S. coast (cf. Bossa Nova and Joao Gilberto in the “Masters of Jazz” series.) Bossa’s languid, syncopated rhythms would blend perfectly with the sensibilities of Getz: he never attempted to “play Latin”, but integrated the spirit and rhythm of this music from another world with his native lyricism, producing a form of Bossa Nova that bore his own elegant imprint.
The four sides of this album did much more than leave a mark on several generations of musicians: for decades, they cast a spell over audiences worldwide.