Stan Getz

Stanley Getz, better known as Stan Getz (February 2, 1927 - June 6, 1991) was an American jazz musician. He is considered one of the greatest tenor saxophone players of all time, known as 'The Sound' because of his warm, lyrical, and instantly recognizable tone as displayed in his version of the song 'The Girl from Ipanema'. Getz's prime influence was the wispy, mellow tone of Lester Young, yet Getz continued to develop his approach to playing throughout his life. He said of himself in 1986: 'I never consciously tried to conceive of what my sound should be...'


Life and Work

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York City in a family originally from Russia. Getz played a number of instruments before his father bought him his first saxophone at the age of 13. In 1943, at the age of 16, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden's band. After playing in various other bands (1944 Stan Kenton; 1945 Jimmy Dorsey; 1945-46 Benny Goodman) Getz became best known as a soloist in the Woody Herman Band from 1947-49. He scored a hit with his melodic and lyrical solo on Ralph Burns' song 'Early Autumn'. With few exceptions, Getz would be a leader on all of his recording sessions since 1950.

In the 1950s, Getz became quite popular playing cool jazz with a young Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, and many others. His first two quintets are notable for their personnel, which incorporated, Charlie Parker's rhythm section of Roy Haynes, Al Haig and Tommy Potter. In order to escape his narcotics addiction (for which he had gotten arrested in 1954), he temporarily moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958.

After returning to America in 1961, Stan Getz became a central part of the fusion between jazz and bossa nova. Along with guitarist Charlie Byrd, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz recorded the commercially successful album "Jazz and Samba" in 1962. The title track 'Jazz and Samba' was an adaptation of Tom Jobim's composition 'So' Danco Samba'.

The next step was the actual recording of Getz with the Brazilian musicians. Getz recorded with Brazilian composer Tom Jobim, with guitarist João and his wife, the singer Astrud Gilberto. Their collaboration on 'The Girl from Ipanema' (1963), winner of a Grammy award and one of the most well known jazz pieces altogether, made Jobim's style, known as bossa nova, more popular.

A little-known fact is that in 1964, Getz won a Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording, i.e., "Deep Purple", sung by April Stevens & Nino Tempo (a pseudonym for Getz). The back story for "Nino Tempo" became a long-running put-on in jazz circles.

The album 'Getz/Gilberto', a cooperation of Getz and Joao Gilberto, won two Grammy awards in 1965. The tenor saxophonist and the Brazilian guitarist won Best Album and Best Single, beating The Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night'. This was no doubt a victory for Jazz and for Bossa Nova and resulted in the propagation of the music to millions, paving the way for an influx of Brazilian music and instruments into jazz.

Stan Getz understood the language of Bossa Nova and he sounds completely natural in his recordings with Brazilian musicians. Brazilian jazz has survived as a definite influence in the works of famous jazz musicians such as Wes Montgomery and Joe Henderson. In 1967, Getz became more inspired by fusion and other post bop developments, recording albums with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke.

After another drug-induced hiatus in Malaga, Spain, from 1969, Getz resurfaced, playing with electric ensembles into the 1980's, experimenting with an Echoplex on his tenor saxophone, which critics vilified him for doing. To the relief of many jazz critics, he discarded fusion and the electric side of jazz in favour of acoustic jazz again, into the middle of the 1980s. Getz, later in the 1980's, gradually de-emphasized the bossa nova as his style of choice, opting for more esoteric and perhaps less mainstream jazz. He died in 1991 of cancer. In 1998, The 'Stan Getz Media Center and Library' were dedicated at the Berklee College of Music to the memory of the saxophonist through a donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation.


  • 'Flawless technique, perfect time, strong melodic sense and more than enough harmonic expertise, fabulous memory, and great ears. Add a superb sense of dynamics, pacing, and format. Top this off with a sound of pure gold and you have Stan Getz'. - pianist Lou Levy on Stan Getz
  • 'Let's face it. We (tenor saxophonists) would all play let him, if we could.' -John Coltrane on Stan Getz


Partial discography

External links

de:Stan Getz fr:Stan Getz he:סטן גץ ja:スタン・ゲッツ lb:Stan Getz nl:Stan Getz sv:Stan Getz


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