Getz And Sauter: Focus, The Video

A recent discussion among jazz researchers disclosed what to many of us was news, that there exists video of Stan Getz and Eddie Sauter performing portions of Focus. There has never been anything else quite like the 1961 Verve album of Getz soloing over, around and inside Sauter’s dazzling score for orchestra. Getz was widely quoted as saying that of all his recordings, it was his favorite. In 1964 Getz and Sauter had a return engagement, the music for an Arthur Penn film starring Warren Beatty. Shortly after they made it, Getz told me, “If you think Focus was good, wait until you hear the movie soundtrack I just did with Eddie.” The film was Mickey One. The music suits the movie, which is brilliant, quirky and uneven. Getz’s playing and Sauter’s score were superb, but in the nature of movie music, their job was to accommodate to the film’s twists and turns. The score falls short of the overarching vision and consistency of Focus. I have always assumed that Getz’s enthusiasm for Mickey One was inspired by immediate post-session euphoria. There is more about how the Mickey One music came about in my notes for the CD reissue of the soundtrack.

At any rate, the Focus video that has surfaced is said to be from the Edie Adams television show, which ran on ABC for 13 episodes in 1963 and 1964. I presume that it is her voice at the beginning. The clip is preceded by promo slides in two languages, and the film has the look of a kinescope that has been transferred a few times, but the sound quality is generally good. We hear a bit of “Pan” and “Once Upon a Time.” This is a find.

There are reports—or rumors—of additional video of Getz and Sauter with other music from Focus, but so far no one seems to have found it.

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  1. Hans Doerrscheidt says

    That is a find indeed. For anyone interested, the DuBoff brothers of apparently are about to publish the original sheet music/arrangements to Eddie Sauter’s “Focus”.

  2. Denis Ouellet says

    We can be so thankful about YouTube. How many outstanding videos are still
    waiting to be discovered ?

    From Nicholas Churchill Annotated Bibliography and Filmography on Stan Getz,
    the Edie Adams Show for this performance was on September 26 1963.

    The first live performance of the Focus album was at Hunter College Assembly Hall
    New York, October 18 1963. The first part of the concert featured Stan with his
    quartet with Jimmy Raney. In the second part they were joined by Strings conducted
    by Eddie Sauter.


  3. says

    Stan Getz’s beautiful improvisations and Roy Haynes’s imaginative rhythmical support are letting one easily ignore the quite cliched writing of the composer Eddie Sauter (the track from the video sounds to me like Prokofiev’s “Triumph March” from Peter And The Wolf).

    As great, and as revolutionary as “Focus” may have been in 1961: I think that this particular album sounds dated today, whereas especially Stan Getz’s two Bossa Nova albums “Getz/Gilberto” and “Jazz Samba Encore” ( are still sounding refreshing and timeless; the same applies to the later released studio album with Stan Getz & Bill Evans and to “Sweet Rain” with Chick Corea.

  4. don frese says

    I found the dates for the Edie Adams show, and the date given for this is 9/26/63. Getz appeared once before, as well as Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Andre Previn, and many other jazz performers.

    For full details, click here.

    • Bruce Armstrong says

      Don, thanks for the details of the Edie Adams Show. I was in my first year of college when this show was featuring probably the hippest lineup of musical guests ever, but I have no remembrance of ever watching it. I didn’t have a TV where I was living at that time and spent a lot of my time in the school library. On reflection, my loss!

  5. Terence Smith says

    I can’t play the provided clip due to no broadband and have not heard FOCUS since about 1963. Unfortunately. So I am really not qualified to judge the Sauter score. (In 1963 I was prejudiced against jazz with strings and overdubbing, with Bird and Evans already helping me to get over it). But Bruno Leicht, I sure do have to agree with your selections of timeless Getz. And may I add: ANYthing Stan did with Lou Levy, ditto with Jimmy Raney. Also, would that there had been more than the tantalizing few collaborations with Steve Kuhn and Scott LaFaro. And how about the Getz and Cal Tjader album, also with Scott LaFaro? All timeless, and all probably quite casual for Stan— Of course, there are those who might say that Sauter was only in Finnegan’s wake—-

    I suspect Bruno is right; it is Getz who illuminates the score rather than vice versa. I just got out Donald Maggin’s bio of Getz and found the part about Focus. Maybe Stan’s lifelong preference for the Focus album was partly based on pride in how spontaneously well he could perform while intoxicated! If you believe Maggin, Stan arrived at the Focus session in disarray from a two-week binge following the unexpected death of his mother. Stan reportedly arrived completely unprepared and told producer Creed Taylor that he had never recorded completely sober. Maggin says that he recorded all seven parts of the 38-minute suite in one day after fortifying his stomach with Alka-Seltzer and then throughout the session sipping Scotch that he had asked Taylor to bring to the studio! It kinda reminds me of Zoot Sims’ notorious answer to the fan who, with great admiration, asked Zoot how he could play so well when he was loaded: “I practice when I’m loaded.”

  6. says

    Wie Getz? It’s Stan the Man, a-Musial as ever, sharp Focussed with Eddie, but slipped a Mickey by Penn… and thus the pungent witticisms ran amok while I was AWOLLOA (A-wandering Where Optimal Leaftime Leaves One Agog). So… never one to pass up a gog, I’ll just remind the Riff Readers that whatever AWOLLOA wants, AWOLLOA Getz.

  7. Jim Brown says

    Nice piece, and for once, the video production EFX actually work in the contest of the music (and mostly stay focused on Stan and Eddie). Unlikely that this is a kinescope — videotape was well established by then. I’d bet that the original audio was damn good. Yes, there’s tape hiss but the only thing that bothers me is the wow and flutter (slow and fast variations in speed) of one of the tape machines in the copying path that makes the music sound off key.

    As to what of Stan’s music holds up — I was lucky enough to hear a LOT of Stan playing live with some very good bands during the 70s and 80s, often 4-6 nights in a club or at large festivals where I was doing sound, and he was consistently playing at a very high level every time I heard him.

  8. zapatogrande says

    I liked Focus when it first came out back in the early 60’s, wore out two copies of the vinyl. Still like it after all these years, now have it on CD. I think that I liked it as much as, if not better than, the bossa nova albums Getz did. This was something really different and fresh and made a very strong impressing on a then 13-14 year old boy. “Once Upon A Time” is one of my favorite two pieces on the album,( the other being “I’m Late, I’m Late”) and a good choice for them to have showcased before a live audience. So the video is a real find. Thanks for sharing this with us.