While this set of ballads could easily pass for a contemporary smooth jazz collection, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz's impeccable phrasing, full of easy, fluid upward glides, always with that gorgeous, honey-tinged, airy, and endlessly romantic horn tone, makes it something else again. With selections ranging from the early '50s through his twilight work at Concord Records in the 1980s (interestingly, none of his commercially successful bossa nova era recordings from the 1960s are included), Stan Getz Plays for Lovers is just that, an introduction to his heartbreakingly beautiful ballad style, which is anything but wallpaper, even if you encounter it in an elevator, and while over 30 years is covered here, it all falls together into an integrated, coherent set. Included are "My Old Flame" from 1950, which spotlights a slightly grittier sax tone than what Getz is generally known for, "For All We Know," a 1958 cut featuring Getz with vibraphonist Cal Tjader and pianist Vince Guaraldi (a case could be made that the template for smooth jazz begins here), a pair of live tracks, "Lover Man" and "But Beautiful," from a 1974 concert in Antwerp, Belgium, with Bill Evans & His Trio, and a selection of Getz's later era work for Concord, including the beautiful "A Time for Love" (with Lou Levy on piano) from 1981 and the relaxed yet still soulful "Easy Going" from 1982. You can't help but marvel at this guy's remarkable tone and phrasing, and yes, it's all very cool and smooth, but underneath that it is all heart and soul, intangible elements all too often missing in what passes for smooth jazz these days.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett