Tim Garland: Refocus review – a classic 60s fusion revisited

Focus was a 1961 album by Stan Getz, wildly adventurous at the time, in which Getz improvised tenor saxophone solos to music composed by Eddie Sauter, played by a small string orchestra. It’s widely regarded as a Getz masterpiece and a classic in its own right. Now Tim Garland has come up with “a reworking for our time”. Except for the first track, which is taken from part of it note-for-note, Refocus has little obvious connection with the original. But they do share one thing: neither is merely saxophone with string accompaniment. Sauter created seven complete compositions, leaving space for Getz to thread his melodic line through each one. In this case, Garland wrote his own compositions, but left two years before recording the solo part, so he came to it fresh.

Stylistically, Tim Garland is half a century away from Getz, in his composition as well as his playing. The whole soundscape is heavier and sometimes darker, especially in pieces such as Dream State and Night Flight, while the saxophone ascends to stratospheric heights rarely attempted in the early 60s. Where Focus was charming, Refocus is challenging and definitely of our time.