Stan Getz

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Stan Getz
Stan Getz, tenor saxophonist at Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen (cropped).jpg
Getz in 1958
Background information
Birth nameStanley Getz
Born(1927-02-02)February 2, 1927
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJune 6, 1991(1991-06-06) (aged 64)
Malibu, California, U.S.
  • Tenor saxophone
Years active1943–1991

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, with 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". [1] Getz performed in bebop and cool jazz groups. Influenced by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim, he also helped popularize bossa nova in the United States with the hit 1964 single "The Girl from Ipanema".


Early life

Stan Getz was born on February 2, 1927, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. [2] Getz's father Alexander ("Al") was a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant who was born in Mile End, London, in 1904, while his mother Goldie (née Yampolsky) was born in Philadelphia in 1907. His paternal grandparents Harris and Beckie Gayetski were originally from Kyiv, Ukraine but had migrated to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms to Whitechapel, in the East End of London. While in England they owned the Harris Tailor Shop at 52 Oxford Street for more than 13 years. In 1913, Harris and Beckie emigrated to the United States with their three sons Al, Phil, and Ben, following their son Louis Gayetski who had emigrated to the US the year before. Getz's original family name, "Gayetski", was changed to Getz upon arrival in America.[ citation needed ]

The Getz family first settled in Philadelphia, but during the Great Depression the family moved to New York City, seeking better employment opportunities. Getz worked hard in school, receiving straight A's, and finished sixth grade close to the top of his class. Getz's major interest was in musical instruments and he played a number of them before his father bought him his first saxophone, a $35.00 alto saxophone, when he was 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. [3] According to Getz, he only had about six months of lessons and never studied music theory or harmony.

Getz attended James Monroe High School in the Bronx. 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. [1]



In 1943, at the age of 16, [4] he joined Jack Teagarden's band and, because of his youth, he became Teagarden's ward. [2] Getz also played along with Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton. A period based in Los Angeles with Stan Kenton was brief. Following a comment from Kenton that his main influence, Lester Young, was too simple, he quit. [5] After performing with Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman, Getz was a soloist with Woody Herman from 1947 to 1949 [2] 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. [4] With Herman, he had a hit with "Early Autumn" in 1948. [5]

After Getz left "The Second Herd" he was able to launch his solo career. [2] Horace Silver's trio was heard by Getz as the guest soloist at Hartford, Connecticut's Club Sundown in 1950 and he hired them for touring gigs, gaining Silver his earliest national exposure. [6] [7] For an unknown period, Silver was not paid by Getz, who was using the money due the pianist to buy heroin. Silver finally left in June 1952. [8] In the same period, Getz performed with pianists Al Haig and Duke Jordan and drummers Roy Haynes and Max Roach, as well as bassist Tommy Potter, all of whom had worked with Charlie Parker. Guitarists Jimmy Raney and Johnny Smith were also associated with the saxophonist in this period. His profile was enhanced by his featured performance on Johnny Smith's version of the song "Moonlight in Vermont", recorded in 1952, which became a hit single and stayed on the charts for months. [9] [10] A DownBeat readers' poll voted the single as the second best jazz record of 1952. [11] The later album Moonlight in Vermont , reconfigured from two 10 inch LPs for a 12-inch release, was issued in 1956.

A 1953 line-up of the Dizzy Gillespie/Stan Getz Sextet featured Gillespie, Getz, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Max Roach. [1] He moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958. [5] Here he performed with pianist Jan Johansson and bassist Oscar Pettiford, among others, at the Club Montmartre. [12]

Getz and Chet Baker in 1983 Getz&BakerSandvika1983.jpg
Getz and Chet Baker in 1983

Return to United States

Returning to the U.S. from Europe in 1961, Getz recorded the album Focus with arrangements by Eddie Sauter, who created a strings backing for the saxophonist. In a March 2021 article for the All About Jazz website, Chris May wrote of it as "one of the great masterpieces of mid-twentieth century jazz" and compared it to the work of Béla Bartók. [13]

Getz became involved in introducing bossa nova music to the American audience. [2] Teaming with guitarist Charlie Byrd, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, Getz recorded Jazz Samba in 1962. Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for his cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Desafinado", from Jazz Samba. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. [14] 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. [14]

He then recorded the album Getz/Gilberto , in 1963, [15] with Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and his wife, Astrud Gilberto. Their recording of "The Girl from Ipanema" won a Grammy Award. Getz/Gilberto won two Grammys (Best Album and Best Single). A live album, Getz/Gilberto Vol. 2 , followed, as did Getz Au Go Go (1964), a live recording at the Cafe au Go Go. While still working with the Gilbertos, he recorded the jazz album Nobody Else But Me (1964), with a new quartet including vibraphonist Gary Burton, but Verve Records, wishing to continue building the Getz brand with bossa nova, refused to release it. It came out 30 years later, after Getz had died.

Later career

In 1972, Getz recorded the jazz fusion album Captain Marvel with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Tony Williams, and in this period experimented with an Echoplex on his saxophone. He had a cameo in the film The Exterminator (1980).

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 DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame. During 1988, Getz worked with Huey Lewis and the News on their Small World album. He played the extended solo on part 2 of the title track, which became a minor hit single.

His tenor saxophone of choice was the Selmer Mark VI.

Personal life

With his granddaughter Katie in 1987 at the Lincoln Center Dad Katie 1987 Lincoln Center2.jpg
With his granddaughter Katie in 1987 at the Lincoln Center

Getz married Beverly Byrne, a vocalist with the Gene Krupa band, on November 7, 1946, in Los Angeles; the couple had three children, Steve, David and Beverly. As a teenager, Getz had become involved with drugs and alcohol. In 1954, he was arrested for attempting to rob a pharmacy for morphine. As he was being processed in the prison ward of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Beverly gave birth to their third child one floor below.[ citation needed ]

Getz was divorced from Byrne in Mexico in 1956, after which, due to Byrne's own addictions, she was unable to take care of the children. Eventually, the children were rescued and awarded by the Court to Getz's second wife, Monica Silfverskiöld, [16] daughter of Swedish physician and former Olympic medalist Nils Silfverskiöld and Swedish Countess Mary von Rosen. Monica had insisted on raising the family together, as the children had been divided among family members, and eventually, they raised five children: Steven, David, Beverley, Pamela, and Nicolaus, the last two of which were from their own marriage. The couple lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, partly to escape the prevalence of drugs in America at the time. Monica would also become Stan's manager and a major influence in his life.

In 1962, Monica returned with the family to Sweden after having discovered Stan's recurring addictions. During the following period, as he was trying to persuade her to come back, he sent her two test pressings, one of which, Jazz Samba with Charlie Byrd, was pivotal to her plans for the next record, Getz/Gilberto. However, Getz's association with Byrd soured, due to a lawsuit initiated by Byrd. [17]

After Getz promised to stay clean and sober, Monica returned from Sweden with the family. On November 21, 1962, Brazil sent scores of musicians to Carnegie Hall [18] as a result of the bossa nova craze created by Jazz Samba. [19] After being told by Gilberto and Jobim that Getz had been an invisible partner in their creating of the Bossa Nova by superimposing Getz's Jazz harmonies and sound on the old Samba, Monica suggested a unification of the three. Jobim and Gilberto reacted with deference and enthusiasm. Getz was reluctant, at first, as he had heard the two were "difficult." Getz had reportedly said that he was convinced, when Monica retorted, "Well, don't you have a reputation for being difficult?" They would become very close friends during the recording of Getz/Gilberto, and Gilberto would even move in with the Getzes, occasionally joined by the children of his own two marriages and his second wife, Miúcha.

In the early 1980s, Getz again relapsed into his addictions, resulting in an arrest with an illegal gun in the home with Monica and some of the children. This resulted in an Order of Protection, issued in her favor, which contained a clause that Getz must be sober to be allowed into the house and an Order he go to treatment. As a countermove, Getz filed for divorce from Monica in 1981, [20] but the couple reconciled at his insistence in 1982 and signed a Reconciliation Agreement, in which they agreed to jointly buy a house they found in San Francisco. Soon after, however, Getz relapsed. After a second illegal gun/cocaine incident, Monica returned to their New York home. At this time, she discovered the need for the courts to learn about addictions and founded the National Coalition for Family Justice [21] in 1988, around the time a divorce was finalized. In 1990, Monica Getz petitioned the United States Supreme Court to have their divorce verdict overturned, although they declined. [5] His ultimately terminal cancer was diagnosed in 1987; he died in June 1991. [5]

Zoot Sims, who had known Getz since their time with Herman, once described him as "a nice bunch of guys", an allusion to his unpredictable personality. [5] Bob Brookmeyer, another performing colleague, responded to speculation Getz had a heart operation with a query: “Did they put one in?” [22]


Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991. [23] [24] His ashes were poured from his saxophone case six miles off the coast of Marina del Rey, California. In 1998, the Stan Getz Media Center and Library at Berklee College of Music was dedicated through a donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation.




Related Research Articles

Bossa nova is a style of samba developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is mainly characterized by a "different beat" that altered the harmonies with the introduction of unconventional chords and an innovative syncopation of traditional samba from a single rhythmic division. The "bossa nova beat" is characteristic of a samba style and not of an autonomous genre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antônio Carlos Jobim</span> Brazilian musician (1927–1994)

Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, was a Brazilian composer, pianist, guitarist, songwriter, arranger, and singer. Considered one of the great exponents of Brazilian music, Jobim internationalized bossa nova and, with the help of important American artists, merged it with jazz in the 1960s to create a new sound, with popular success. As such, he is sometimes known as the "father of bossa nova".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">João Gilberto</span> Brazilian musician, pioneer of bossa nova (1931–2019)

João Gilberto was a Brazilian guitarist, singer and composer who was a pioneer of the musical genre of bossa nova in the late 1950s. Around the world, he was often called "father of bossa nova"; in his native Brazil, he was referred to as "O Mito".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Girl from Ipanema</span> Song by Antônio Carlos Jobim

"Garota de Ipanema" is a Brazilian bossa nova and jazz song. It was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.

<i>Getz/Gilberto</i> Album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto

Getz/Gilberto is an album by American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, featuring pianist and composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, who also composed many of the tracks. It was released in March 1964 by Verve Records. The album features the vocals of Astrud Gilberto on two tracks, "Garota de Ipanema" and "Corcovado". The artwork was done by artist Olga Albizu. Getz/Gilberto is a jazz and bossa nova album and includes tracks such as "Desafinado", "Corcovado", and "Garota de Ipanema". The last received a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and started Astrud Gilberto's career. "Doralice" and "Para Machucar Meu Coração" strengthened Gilberto's and Jobim's respect for the tradition of pre-bossa nova samba.

Creed Bane Taylor V was an American record producer, best known for his work with CTI Records, which he founded in 1967. His career also included periods at Bethlehem Records, ABC-Paramount Records, Verve, and A&M Records. In the 1960s, he signed bossa nova artists from Brazil to record in the US including Antonio Carlos Jobim, Eumir Deodato, João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and Airto Moreira.

<i>Jazz Samba</i> 1962 studio album by Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

Jazz Samba is a bossa nova album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd released by Verve Records in 1962. Jazz Samba signaled the beginning of the bossa nova craze in America. Stan Getz was the featured soloist and the tracks were arranged by Charlie Byrd, who had first heard bossa nova during a tour of Brazil in 1961.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charlie Byrd</span> American jazz guitarist (1925–1999)

Charlie Lee Byrd was an American jazz guitarist. Byrd was best known for his association with Brazilian music, especially bossa nova. In 1962, he collaborated with Stan Getz on the album Jazz Samba, a recording which brought bossa nova into the mainstream of North American music.

Ethno jazz, also known as world jazz, is a subgenre of jazz and world music, developed internationally in the 1950s and '60s and broadly characterized by a combination of traditional jazz and non-Western musical elements. Though occasionally equaled to or considered the successor of world music, an independent meaning of ethno jazz emerged around 1990 through the commercial success of ethnic music via globalization, which especially observed a Western focus on Asian musical interpretations. The origin of ethno jazz has widely been credited to saxophonist John Coltrane.

<i>Getz/Gilberto Vol. 2</i> Live album by Stan Getz

Getz/Gilberto #2 is a live album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto, released in 1966. It was recorded at a live concert at Carnegie Hall in October 1964. The previous album Getz/Gilberto won the 1965 Grammy Awards for Best Album of the Year and Best Jazz Instrumental Album - Individual or Group amongst others. The painting on the cover is by Olga Albizu.

<i>The Composer of Desafinado Plays</i> 1963 studio album by Antônio Carlos Jobim

The Composer of Desafinado, Plays is the first album by Antônio Carlos Jobim. Released in 1963, the album features a dozen instrumentals arranged by Claus Ogerman, whose work would mark the beginning of a lifelong musical relationship with Jobim. Of these twelve songs, nearly all of them are jazz standards. The opening track "The Girl from Ipanema" is believed to be the second most recorded song in history behind The Beatles' "Yesterday," and a recording of the song by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz became a worldwide hit in 1964.

"Desafinado" is a 1959 bossa nova song and jazz standard composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim with lyrics by Newton Mendonça.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roberto Menescal</span> Musical artist

Roberto Menescal is a Brazilian composer, record producer, guitarist, vocalist, and pioneer of bossa nova. In many of his songs there are references to the sea, including his best-known composition "O Barquinho". He is also known for work with Carlos Lyra, Nara Leão, Wanda Sá, Ale Vanzella, and many others. Menescal has performed in Latin music genres such as Música popular brasileira, bossa nova, and samba. He was nominated for a Latin Grammy for his work with his son's bossa group Bossacucanova in 2002 and received the 2013 Latin Recording Academy Special Awards in Las Vegas in November 2013.

"Samba de uma Nota Só", known in English as "One Note Samba", is a bossa nova and jazz standard song composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim with Portuguese lyrics by Newton Mendonça. The English lyrics were written by Jon Hendricks. It was first recorded by João Gilberto in 1960 for his album O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Astrud Gilberto</span> Brazilian singer

Astrud Gilberto is a Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer. She gained international attention in the 1960s following her recording of the song "The Girl from Ipanema".

In the late 1960s, Latin jazz, combining rhythms from African and Latin American countries, often played on instruments such as conga, timbale, güiro, and claves, with jazz and classical harmonies played on typical jazz instruments broke through. There are two main varieties: Afro-Cuban jazz was played in the US right after the bebop period, while Brazilian jazz became more popular in the 1960s. Afro-Cuban jazz began as a movement in the mid-1950s as bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Taylor started Afro-Cuban bands influenced by such Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians as Xavier Cugat, Tito Puente, and Arturo Sandoval. Brazilian jazz such as bossa nova is derived from samba, with influences from jazz and other 20th-century classical and popular music styles. Bossa is generally moderately paced, with melodies sung in Portuguese or English. The style was pioneered by Brazilians João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim. The related term jazz-samba describes an adaptation of bossa nova compositions to the jazz idiom by American performers such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

<i>Getz Au Go Go</i> Album by Stan Getz

Getz Au Go Go is a live album by American saxophonist Stan Getz and his quartet, featuring bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto. It was recorded during two concerts in 1964 and released on Verve the same year as V6-8600.

<i>Big Band Bossa Nova</i> (Stan Getz album) 1962 studio album by Stan Getz

Big Band Bossa Nova is a 1962 album by saxophonist Stan Getz with the Gary McFarland Orchestra. The album was arranged and conducted by Gary McFarland and produced by Creed Taylor for Verve Records. This was Getz's second bossa nova album for Verve following Jazz Samba, his very successful collaboration with guitarist Charlie Byrd.

<i>Bossa Antigua</i> 1965 studio album by Paul Desmond

Bossa Antigua is an album recorded by American jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond featuring performances recorded in 1964 which were released on the RCA Victor label. The album title is a word play on bossa nova, the genre of Brazilian music that inspired the album. "Bossa Antigua" loosely translates in English to "old thing", though "antigua" is a Spanish word rather than Portuguese. Antigua is also the name an island in the West Indies popular with North American tourists.

"Só Danço Samba" is a bossa nova song composed in 1962 by Antônio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were later written by Norman Gimbel. On occasion, it has also been known as "Jazz Samba" and "I Only Dance Samba", an English translation of the original Portuguese title.


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