Nearly twenty years after the death of Stan Getz, we now have the complete recordings he made with Kenny Barron at the Cafe Montmatre in Copenhagen in 1991, shortly before the legendary tenor man succumbed to cancer.
Up until now, the 2 disc version of People Time has stood as a wonderful testament to the last great recordings Getz made, but this new 7 disc version now surely relegates that set to the status of a starter to this more generous and satisfying main course.
The music is a mixture of sublime and sad. Sublime simply because Getz and Barron play so well together that it's hard to fault anything they do here. There is a classical simplicity to the pared down combination of sax and piano, and much has been made of the almost telepathic connection between the two men. But sadness too, in that this is the last recordings Getz made. You can hear the struggle at times, the shortage of breath from Getz and the extended solos from Barron on piano, simply because Getz could no longer muster the energy at times to carry the songs for the duration.
Last recordings always carry great poignancy, and there's no exception here. Both men knew this was it, there would be no coming back for more, and the sense of finality, mortality, combined with the intimate club setting and a knowledgable, appreciative audience, makes this a recording to savour more than most.
The Complete Recordings is, however, not perfect. The box set is presented in a rather flimsy cardboard container, and the liner note booklet written by the excellent Gary Giddins won't take too much fingering. Something a little more substantial would have been appreciated as the boxset itself is quite an expensive undertaking.
Finally though, it's the music that counts, and what's presented here is timeless, beautiful and essential. The recordings are a fitting end to Getz's stellar career, and are recommended without reservation.