Stan Getz – The 1953-54 Clef/Norgren Studio Sessions

Mosaic’s latest unburied treasure compiles mono recordings produced on the Clef, Norgran, and Verve labels during one of the lowest points in the career of legendary saxophone player Stan Getz, who, at time, was battling heroin addiction and assorted personal problems. Such circumstances made it tough for the jazz icon to land a major recording contract. Indeed, if Getz’s story were written today, it might read that he was “in-between projects.” A quick Google search fills in the gaps on Getz’s career, yet Ashley Kahn’s liner notes offer an even better history lesson.

Independent of how small or large the label for which it was made, the music from the seven albums that comprise this collection should be savored. Even if they can be located, the original LPs command a premium price and are often of questionable quality. Yes, the fare can also be had on CD, but be forewarned: Verve/Hip-O all but squashed the life out of them. Even the most modest analog rig will bring these tunes to life in a manner that’s impossible on the existing CDs.

Mastering engineer Kevin Gray took great care with this set, sourced from the original full-track mono masters. (Well, all save for an alternate take of “Pot Luck” transferred from an original 78.) As with all of the Mosaic titles we’ve sampled, the sound is spectacular. Gray preserves the musical delicacy, and it does not feel like the EQ has been goosed or other alterations made.

Because these records have been cut on a modern lathe, you will not need a mono cartridge to take full advantage of the rich, warm sound presented on these grooves. It’s easy to see why Getz got the nickname “The Sound.” The soundscape feels as if comes through in stereo, as the best mono material always does.

A slight bit of tape hiss exists in the quietest part of some tracks, but everything else is exceptional. How so? These records do not feel “remastered” in the classic sense. Rather, they sound as if you had uncovered a pristine set in a hermetically sealed, temperature-controlled environment.

Mosaic Records, 180g 4LP box set