Getz, Stan(ley)

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Getz, Stan(ley)

Getz, Stan(ley), American jazz tenor saxophonist;b. Philadelphia, Feb. 2, 1927; d. Los Angeles, June 6, 1991. Getz was one of the major progenitors of the cool style of jazz in the 1950s; in the 1960s he helped to introduce Brazilian bossa nova on such popular albums as Jazz Samba and Getz/Gilberto and such tunes as “Desafinado” and “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Getz’s parents were Russian immigrants. His father, Alexander Getz, a tailor, had been named Gayetskis; his mother was the former Goldie Yampolsky. The family moved to the Bronx in N.Y. when he was young. He played several instruments as a child, starting on the string bass and then switching to bassoon before taking up the tenor saxophone. He was a member of the All-City Orch. while attending James Monroe H.S. At 15 he dropped out to join Dick Rogers’s band, but he was forced to return to school until he was 16, when he left again to join Jack Teagarden. He played with Stan Kenton, 1944-45, and had brief stints with several other bands, including those of Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, first leading his own group in 1945 and first making his own records in 1946. On Nov. 7, 1946, he married singer Beverly Byrne, with whom he had two children. They divorced on Oct. 31, 1956.

Getz joined Woody Herman’s Second Herd in September 1947 and achieved fame as a member of the “Four Brothers” saxophone section, named after the song of that title and also featuring Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, and Herbie Steward (replaced by Al Cohn). Getz’s solo on the 1948 Herman recording of “Early Autumn” (music by Ralph Burns) added to his renown. In early 1949 he left Herman and again led his own small group. His career was bedeviled by drug addiction in the early 1950s, and he spent much of the late 1950s living in Europe. On Nov. 2, 1956, he married Monica Silfverskiold; they had two children and divorced on May 29, 1987.

Getz moved back to the U.S. in January 1961, to find the cool, restrained approach of his playing out of fashion in the face of the more aggressive work of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. He responded first with Focus (1962), on which he was accompanied by string arrangements written by Eddie Sauter, and then with Jazz Samba, recorded Feb. 13, 1962, on which he teamed with guitarist Charlie Byrd to play Brazilian tunes in the bossa nova style originated by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The LP was a remarkable commercial and critical success; it hit #1 in March 1963 and earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, while the single “Desafinado” (music by Antonio Carlos Jobim) became a Top 40 hit and earned a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year, winning Getz his first Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist or Small Group, Instrumental.

Getz reached the pop charts with a series of albums, Big Band Bossa Nova in 1962, Jazz Samba Encore! in 1963, and Reflections in 1964, before exceeding the success of Jazz Samba with his duet album with João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, released in March 1964. Paced by a single release of ’The Girl from Ipanema” (music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Portuguese lyrics by Vinicuis De Moraes, English lyrics by Norman Gimbel) featuring Gilberto’s wife, Astrud Gilberto, on vocals, that topped the easy-listening charts and hit the pop Top Ten, the LP went gold, winning two Grammys, for Album of the Year and Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by a Small Group or Soloist with Small Group. “The Girl from Ipanema” was named Record of the Year.

Getz’s next album, Getz Au Go Go, a live album featuring Astrud Gilberto, made the charts in December 1964 and stayed there more than 10 months. His playing of the music of Eddie Sauter on the soundtrack of the film Mickey One, released in September 1965, earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Performance by a Large Group or Soloist with Large Group. His album Sweet Rain made the charts in September 1967 and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by a Small Group or Soloist with Small Group (7 or Fewer).

Getz again spent much of his time in Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He commissioned Chick Corea to write for him and in 1972 recorded the resulting album, Captain Marvel, with a band including Corea. It was not released until 1975, when he signed a contract with Columbia Records, but it then made the charts. Getz earned two Grammy nominations in 1978, one for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Soloist for Stan Getz Gold and another with Jimmy Rowles for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Group for The Peacocks.

After performing more fusion-oriented music in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Getz returned to a more traditional approach. He became an artist in residence at Stanford Univ. in 1984. Suffering from liver cancer, he continued to record and perform. Getz earned two Grammy nominations in 1990, for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Soloist for Anniversary and for Best Jazz Fusion Performance for Apasionado, winning his final Grammy for the track “I Remember You” from Serenity following his death at 64 in 1991.


Opus de Bop (1945); All Star Series (1946); Grooviri High (1947); In Retrospect (1948); Five Brothers (1949); Stan Getz and Tenor Sax Stars (1949); Stan Getz (1949); Stan Getz, Vol. 2 (1949); The Brothers (1949); Long Island Sound (1949); Quartets (1949); Prezervation (1949); At Carnegie Hall (1949); The Sounds of Stan Getz (1950); Modern World (1950); Getz Age (1950); Roost Quartets (1950); Split Kick (1950); Chamber Music (1951); The Sound (1951); Jazz at Storyville (1951); Storyville, Vol. 1 (1951); Storyville, Vol. 2 (1951); Jazz at Storyville, Vol. 3 (1951); Billie and Stan (1952); Moonlight in Vermont (1952); Live 1952, Vol. 1 (1952); Plays (1952); Interpretatons by the Stan Getz Quintet (1953); More West Coast Jazz with Stan Getz (1953); The Melodic Stan Getz (1953); Interpretations (1953); Stan Getz Plays Blues (1953); Diz and Getz (1953); Stan Getz ’57 (1953); Stan Getz and the Cool Sounds (1954); Another Time, Another Place (1954); Eloquence (1954); Stan Getz at the Shrine (1954); At the Shrine Auditorium (1954); Hamp and Getz (1955); Stan Getz Quintet (1955); West Coast Jazz (1955); Stan Getz in Stockholm (1955); For Musicians Only (1956); The Steamer (1956); The Soft Swing (1957); Award Winner: Stan Getz (1957); Stan Getz and J.J. Johnson at the Opera House (1957); Getz Meets Mulligan in Hi-Fi (1957); Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio (1957); Stan Getz with Cal Tjader (1958); Stan Meets Chet (1958); Jazz Giants ’58 (1958); Stockholm Sessions ’58 (1958); Imported from Europe (1958); Jazz Collector Edition (1958); Live in Europe (1958); Stan Getz at Large (1960); Cool Velvet (1960); Focus (1961); Stan Getz and Bob Brookmeyer (1961): Rhythms (1961); Jazz Samba (1962); Big Band Bossa Nova (1962); Jazz Samba Encore (1963); Getz/Gilberto (1963); Stan Getz with Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida (1963); Reflections (1963); Stan Getz and Bill Evans (1964); Getz Au Go Go Featuring Astrud Gilberto (1964); Getz/Gilberto #2 (1964); Chick Corea/Bill Evans Sessions (1964); Mickey One (soundtrack; 1965); Look at Yesterday (1965); A Song After Sundown (1966); Stan Getz and Arthur Fiedler at Tanglewood (1966); Didn’t We (1966); Quartet in Paris (1966); Voices (1966); Sweet Rain (1967); What the World Needs Now (1967); Marakesh Express (1969); Dynasty (1971); Communications 72 (1971); Captain Marvel (1972); But Beautiful (1974); The Best of Two Worlds (1975); The Peacocks (1975); The Master (1975); Live at Montmartre (1977); Another World (1977); Children of the World (1978); Forest Eyes (1979); Stan Getz (1979); Live at Midem ’80 (1980); Autumn Leaves (1980); Stan Getz Live (1980); The Dolphin (1981); Spring Is Here (1981); Billy Highstreet Samba (1981); Pure Getz (1982); Blue Skies (1982); Live in Paris (1982); Poetry (1983); Line for Lyons (1983); The Stockholm Concert (1983); Voyage (1986); Serenity (1987); The Lyrical Stan Getz (1988); Just Friends (1989); Yours and Mine: Live at the Glasgow (1989); Soul Eyes (1989); Apasionado (1989); Live (1990); People Time (1991).


I A. Astrup, The S. G. Discography (Texarkana, Tex., 1978; 2nd ed., 1984); R. Palmer, S. G. (London, 1988); D. Maggin, S. G.: A Life in Jazz (N.Y., 1996); R. Kirkpatrick, S. G.: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work (Bath, 1992).

—William Ruhlmann