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Stan Getz: Affinity

Jack Bowers By

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Talk about spontaneity. The material that comprises Affinity was taped a quarter-century ago by Stan Getz’s brother-in-law, bassist Peter Silfverskjöld, during an after-supper jam session at the Silfverskjöold home — and was never intended for commercial release.

“I had borrowed a deck tape-recorder, which I left on during the session,” Peter writes in the liner notes. “As you can hear, the setting is very informal — if you listen closely you can hear my grandfather’s clock chime and my six-year-old son’s voice at times.” That’s true, and you can also hear again the sublimely beautiful sound of Getz's tenor saxophone in marvelous form on half a dozen standards, Silfverskjöld’s soulful blues, “Snoopy’s Back,” and Getz's brief but impressive “Coda” — not to mention Stan discussing with his companions what number they should play next and in what key, and tossing in a post-solo quip or two such as “No applause; just throw money.”

Getz, one of the most melodic improvisers who ever lived, had a keen ear for an entrancing melody, and those he has chosen to play, as one can see from the titles, are among the loveliest ever written. As always, he makes each of them seem as cool and refreshing as a summertime splash in one’s favorite swimming pool, dancing around the changes with the suppleness and savoir-faire of an Astaire or Kelly.

If that seems an overstatement, remember this is Stan Getz we’re talking about, a tenor stylist who at age fifty, when this tape was made, was already a living legend, having made his mark with Woody Herman’s Second Herd and transcended his Lester Young bloodline to become one of the world’s most consistently inventive jazz artists, one whose achingly beautiful sound has seldom been imitated and never duplicated.

Getz is perfectly comfortable among his Swedish hosts, as well he should be — their character is as thoroughly “American” as any sidemen he’d be likely to encounter in New York, L.A. or anywhere else in the States. The rhythm section swings, and the pianists — Dage Jonsson, Lars Wadenbäck, Olle Larson — call to mind several of the leading players from the “West Coast School” such as Pete Jolly, Claude Williamson, Lou Levy, Russ Freeman and Gerald Wiggins. Larson, who plays only on “It’s You or No One,” is stylistically akin to one of Stan’s most able accompanists, John Williams. In spite of the few intrusions noted earlier, the sound is remarkably clear and pleasant.

Those who appreciate superlative jazz are indebted to Silfverskjöld for deciding, even twenty- five years after the fact, “to share the music of this night with [Stan’s] many friends.” It surely was a night to relish and remember.

Contact: Four Leaf Clover Records, Box 1231, S–1722 24 Sundbyberg, Sweden (e–mail flc@flc.se; web site, www.flc.se).

Track Listing: There Will Never Be Another You; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; It

Personnel: Stan Getz, tenor saxophone; Dage Jonsson (1), Lars Wadenb

Title: Affinity | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Four Leaf Clover Records

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