Both of the component albums on My Old Flame, The Dolphin and Spring Is Here, have been released before. But you had to search for them. As a matter of luck, I had checked The Dolphin out of the public library and was knocked out by the perfection of the performancenot just Stan Getz', but by the entire quartet's.
Known for his careful selection of sidemen, Getz maintained his high values when he moved to San Francisco in the early 1980's when these two original albums were recorded. Lou Levy is luminous, to say the least, as he performs at the top of his form. Levy locks in with Getz, amplifying upon the suggestions that come from his horn. Along the way, the occasion was so memorable that Levy's solos on "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "A Time For Love," not to mention his introduction of "Close Enough For Love," remain etched in my consciousness in somewhat the same way that Coleman Hawkins' solo on "Body And Soul" remains unforgettable.
That's not to say that everyone else or anyone else would react the same way to the music. But the music was so affecting that I had to tape it so that I would be able to pop it in the car's tape player whenever I got a craving for it.
Now, that craving has been satiated. Concord has re-released not only the hard-to-find The Dolphin, but also another album that was recorded in the same month (May of 1981) at the Keystone Korner. It seems that Stan Getz never failed to inspire his audiences with his distinctive tone and his ability to infuse drama into a single phrase through the effective use of dynamics and note choice. Some of his more dynamic albums are those before a live audience, such as Concord's Yours And Mine and the Quintessence albums with Chet Baker, not to mention some of his recently released Left Bank Jazz Society work.
While the quartet can relax and expand upon the melody of a standard like "You're Blasé," Getz descending into a low breath of a note before a final cadenza, they can propel "Old Devil Moon" to great heights through the tension of Getz' relaxation against the rhythm section's push.
"Sweet Lorraine" adopts a fairly simple swing approach, but once again that Getz sound floats over the slowed-down stride-like rhythm to distinguish the tune. On the other hand, the key changes within "Joy Spring" are effortless and seemingly natural in the hands of the masters.
Both albums on My Old Flame were recorded live, but the sound engineers kept the background noise to a minimum so that the purity of the sound from this great quartet could be appreciated without interference or distraction. The reissues contained within My Old Flame are yet even more essential recordings in the long discography of Stan Getz.
Disk 1: The Dolphin, A Time For Love, Joy Spring, My Old Flame, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, Close Enough For Love
Disk 2: How About You, You're Blas
Stan Getz, tenor sax; Lou Levy, piano; Monty Ludwig, bass; Victor Lewis, drums