Stan Getz
Stan Getz

Stan Getz

About Stan Getz

There are some jazz instrumentalists whose unique spirit infuses every note they play, making them instantly recognizable; tenor saxophonist Stan Getz is one of those artists. Born in Philadelphia in 1927 and raised in the Bronx, Getz—his immigrant parents shortened the name from Gayetzki—was a natural musician who played bass and bassoon before settling on the tenor sax as a teen. Getz had a near-photographic memory and a fluid ability to master complex charts, but his true power lay in “the Sound”—his deceptively simple, lush tone. His first and most important inspiration was the great Lester Young, followed by Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. But Getz quickly found his own voice—one that was inventive yet seductively melodic, seemingly effortless but never trite. He did stints with Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Stan Kenton and became famous—to his bemusement—thanks to one short solo on Woody Herman’s “Early Autumn.” From there, he embarked on a career that would see him work with Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chick Corea—pioneering cool jazz in the ’50s and experimenting with fusion in the ’70s. But it was his spare, luscious bossa nova work in the early ’60s that made him a household name, thanks to “Desafinado” (which crossed over to the pop charts) and “The Girl from Ipanema,” off of 1964’s seminal Getz/Gilberto, which launched the untutored Astrid Gilberto (João Gilberto’s wife) as a singer. He won Grammys and topped charts, but Getz refused to be defined by those successes. He continued to innovate, returning to a quartet format in the ’80s. Despite a lifetime struggle with drug addiction, he was prolific and beloved: He recorded more than 150 albums, including three in the last months of his life, before he died at age 64 in 1991.

  • HOMETOWN
    Philadelphia, PA
  • BORN
    February 2, 1927

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