Stories » The Stan Getz Quartet 'Getz at The Gate' makes npr: best reissues and archival albums of 2019'

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The Stan Getz Quartet 'Getz at The Gate' makes npr: best reissues and archival albums of 2019'

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And now, a moment of appreciation for the under-assistant recording engineers and studio gofers who toiled in anonymity in the dimly lit studios of the past. They didn't just get coffee - they were on site, taking notes about who played what instrument on which track, writing down the dates of sessions, and making sure that those dates were clearly marked on the tape boxes. They did this for albums that became classics. And singles that never left the garage. We know what happened on countless sessions that later became "important" because these anonymous workers took the time to notate the details as they happened. They trusted that someday, somebody out there would care.

Through streaming, a curious listener who wouldn't spend $80 on a boxed set can graze through its contents, cherry picking whatever seems interesting - but finding any certain version of any certain track usually involves more than a straightforward search. Scroll through an established artist's list of songs and you encounter "original" versions, live versions, edited-for-radio versions and demo versions of the same tune. Often, the quickest way to distinguish between them is to know who played on a particular version, or when or where it was recorded - the kind of information streaming services don't like to share.

This year, record labels and sleuthing researchers leaned on those scrawled morsels of information on tape boxes to bring out an astonishing array of music from the vaults. These include massive hauls of demo recordings, odd never-released curiosities and well known works that have been restored to the artist's original vision. Here are the best of them from this year.

This was an excellent year for newly discovered music from legendary jazz tenor saxophonists, in part thanks to this nicely recorded 1961 date from New York's Village Gate. Here, the bewitchingly lyrical Stan Getz darts through uptempo barnburners ("It's All Right With Me"), then muses, in a sullen, disconsolate way, over a gorgeous "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most." This set is notable for the personnel – Getz' little-recorded Boston-based band of pianist Steve Kuhn and drummer Roy Haynes – and also for its date, capturing the saxophonist just before he began his commercially lucrative flirtations with bossa nova.

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