Stanley Getz (February 2, 1927 – June 6, 1991) was an American jazz saxophonist. Playing primarily the tenor saxophone, Getz was known as “The Sound” because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young. Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman’s big band, Getz is described by critic Scott Yanow as “one of the all-time great tenor saxophonists”. Getz went on to perform in bebop, cool jazz and third stream, but is perhaps best known for popularizing bossa nova, as in the worldwide hit single “The Girl from Ipanema”.
Getz’ parents were Jews from the Kiev area of the Ukraine who emigrated to the United States in 1903. The Getz family first settled in Philadelphia, but during the depression the family moved to New York City, seeking better employment opportunities. Getz worked hard in school, receiving straight As, and finished sixth grade close to the top of his class. Getz’s major interest was in musical instruments, and he felt a need to play every instrument in sight. He played a number of them before his father bought him his first saxophone at the age of 13. Even though his father also got him a clarinet, Getz instantly fell in love with the saxophone and began practicing eight hours a day.
In 1941, he was accepted into the All City High School Orchestra of New York City. This gave him a chance to receive private, free tutoring from the New York Philharmonic’s Simon Kovar, a bassoon player. He also continued playing the saxophone. He eventually dropped out of school in order to pursue his musical career, but was later sent back to the classroom by the school system’s truancy officers.
In 1943 at the age of 16, he was accepted into Jack Teagarden’s band, and because of his youth he became Teagarden’s ward. Getz also played along with Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton. After playing for Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman, Getz was a soloist with Woody Herman from 1947 to 1949 in “The Second Herd”, and he first gained wide attention as one of the band’s saxophonists, who were known collectively as ‘The Four Brothers’, the others being Serge Chaloff, Zoot Sims and Herbie Steward. After Getz left “The Second Herd” he was able to launch his solo career. He was the leader on almost all of his recording sessions after 1950.
In the mid to late 1950s working from Scandinavia, Getz became popular playing cool jazz with Horace Silver, Johnny Smith, Oscar Peterson, and many others.
Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio
I Want to Be Happy 00:00 — Pennies from Heaven 07:34 — Ballad Medley 12:47 — I’m Glad There Is You 22:57 — Tour’s End 27:35 — I Was Doing All Right 32:30 — Bronx Blues 36:38 — Three Little Words 42:11 — Detour Ahead 48:48 — Sunday 52:24 — Blues for Herky 58:34
Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson
Returning to the U.S. from Europe in 1961, Getz became a central figure in introducing bossa nova music to the American audience. Teaming with guitarist Charlie Byrd, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, Getz recorded Jazz Samba in 1962 and it quickly became a hit. Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for “Desafinado”, from the same album. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd: The Bossa Nova Albums (playlist – not all may be available):
1. Desafinado, 2. Samba Dees Days, 3. O Pato, 4. Samba Triste, 5. Samba De Uma Nota So, 6. E Luxo So, 7. Bahia, 8. Manha De Carnaval, 9. Balanço No Samba, 10. Melancólico, 11. Entre Amigos, 12. Chega de Saudade, 13. Noite Triste, 14. One Note Samba, 15. Bim Bom, 16. ——-, 17. So Danço Samba, 18. Insensatez, 19. O Morro Nao Tem Vez. 20. Samba De Duas Notas, 21. Menina Flor, 22. Les idoles de la bossa nova (Album complet), 23. Saudade Vem Correndo, 24. Um Abraco No Getz, 25. Ebony Samba, 26. ——-, 27. Doralice, 28. Para Machuchar Meu Coração, 29. Desafinado, 30. corcovado, 31. So Danço Samba, 32. O Grande Amor, 33. Vivo Sonhando, 34. Menina Moca, 35. Once Again, 36. Winter Moon, 37. ——-, 38. Samba da Sahra, 39. Maracatu-Too
His second bossa nova album, also recorded in 1962, was Big Band Bossa Nova with composer and arranger Gary McFarland. As a follow-up, Getz recorded the album, Jazz Samba Encore!, with one of the originators of bossa nova, Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá. It also sold more than a million copies by 1964, giving Getz his second gold disc.
He then recorded the album Getz/Gilberto, in 1963, with Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and his wife, Astrud Gilberto. Their “The Girl from Ipanema” won a Grammy Award. The piece became one of the most well-known Latin jazz tracks. In the mid-1980s Getz worked regularly in the San Francisco Bay area and taught at Stanford University as an artist-in-residence at the Stanford Jazz Workshop until 1988. In 1986, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea, off the coast of Marina del Rey, California.