Stan Getz

Award Winner: Stan Getz

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Award Winner reunites Stan Getz with his mid-'50s right-hand men pianist Lou Levy and bassist Leroy Vinnegar, plus drummer Stan Levey, who sat in with the trio on 1956's The Steamer. Not surprisingly, it's quite similar to that effort, as the quartet keeps thing alternately cool, swinging ballads, and simmering, low-key grooves. It's the sound that made Getz' reputation and brought him popularity, a fact alluded to in the set's title. In retrospect, that can make Award Winner seem like standard-issue Getz, since it is straight-up Stan, with no surprises. Still, that's a very good thing, since few other tenor saxophonists had such a deft touch with laid-back, sensual cool jazz. Each cut on the six-track album feels sensual, even when the tempo is fleet on the side-closers "Smiles" and "This Can't Be Love." Everyone involved sounds as if they're enjoying themselves, and that results in a solid record that may have a few outstanding moments here and there -- a nice turn of phrase by Getz, a good solo from Levy, supple support from Vinnegar and Levey -- but is more distinguished by its overall strength and consistency of mood. Not necessarily a knockout, then, but certainly a record any true Getz fan would want in their collection. [Award Winner was released as a Verve Master Edition in 2000, containing nine bonus tracks, including four false starts and a track's worth of inserts. The real treat are the non-LP cuts from the same session, "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" and "But Beautiful," which live up to the standard of the original LP, plus alternate takes of "Woody N You" and "Time after Time." All of this music is also available on the three-disc set, East of the Sun: The West Coast Sessions.]

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