1951 was a very busy year for Stan Getz. After leaving Woody Herman's band in 1949 and spending the greater part of a year on his own, he found his first great rhythm section at a club in Hartford and recorded with them, lived in Sweden for several months and recorded there, then formed a quintet with guitarist Jimmy Raney and recorded several sides (including a live date). The Classics label's wrap-up of a year in the life of jazz's most innovative tenor of the time finds him in great company, first at the March 1951 session spawned by a Hartford jam session where he found Horace Silver. Silver appears on the first four sides, contributing his sublime original "Split Kick" that Getz is able to weave a spell around. Barely three weeks later Getz was in Stockholm, recording eight sides -- which ranged from Porter's "Night and Day" to the traditional "Ack, Värmeland du Sköna" -- in two days with a tasteful all-star group featuring a light-fingered young pianist named Bengt Hallberg. Back in New York by August of 1951, Getz worked with a quintet for the rest of the year, initially including both Silver and Raney. The group, with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Leonard Gaskin, really cooked on "Melody Express" and "Yvette," a pair of Gigi Gryce songs. 1951 closes with four tracks recorded in October at a Boston club named Storyville, where Raney's nimble solos do much to keep Getz focused (and challenged). A note for the Getz completist: With the exception of the eight titles from Sweden (which appeared on a Metronome LP), all of these tracks also appear on Getz's The Complete Roost Recordings, though the Proper box set The Sound does the same work at a cheaper price.
AllMusic Review by John Bush