Stan Getz & Kenny Barron: Soul Eyes
People Time (Verve 314 510 823-2)
Recorded: live at the Café Montmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 3-6, 1991
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
The musical relationship between Stan Getz and Kenny Barron blossomed in 1987 with a concert by Getz's quartet at the Café Montmartre (released on the CDs Anniversary and Serenity). It culminated in the last performance and recording by Getz in 1991 at the same venue, this time in a duo format. Getz was in very poor health by 1991, weakened considerably by his battle with cancer, and was out of breath after his solos. However, as Barron wrote in his liner notes for People Time: "...the music is real, honest, pure and beautiful in spite of the pain or perhaps because of it."
As good as Getz and Barron were together on heated up-tempo numbers, there was something extra special about the way they communicated with each other and an audience on their ballads, which always projected an entrancing lyricism. Mal Waldron's classic "Soul Eyes" is a case in point. Barron's tranquil intro prepares the way for Getz's breathy, subdued opening phrase of the melody. Getz then surprises with a somewhat jolting, anguished exclamation before returning to his silky and sensuous meditation on the theme, only to repeat his outbursts during the second chorus. Barron's supporting arpeggios and chords are intimately realized and on equal par with the saxophonist's magical eloquence. Getz spaces out his phrases at first in his improv (catching his breath?) prior to infusing it with more elongated lines and additional hollered declarations. Perhaps unplanned, Barron's solo takes up the rest of the track, with a crystalline touch and a transfixing narrative momentum. He moves from long runs to rich chordal passages, and finally an ethereal interlude that transforms "Soul Eyes" into something sparklingly new of his own creation. The audience responds ecstatically.
Reviewer: Scott Albin