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Stanley Gayetzky or Stanley Gayetsky (born February 2, 1927 in Philadelphiamarker – died June 6, 1991 in Malibumarker, Californiamarker), usually known by his stage name Stan Getz, was an American jazz saxophone player. Getz was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow tone of his idol, Lester Young.

Life and career

Getz was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia. His parents were Ukrainianmarker Jews who immigrated from the Kievmarker area in Ukraine in 1903. The family later moved to New York Citymarker for better jobs. Stan worked hard in school, receiving straight As, and finished 6th 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 8 hours a day.

He 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.

In 1943, 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. With Herman, he had a hit with "Early Autumn" and after Getz left 'The Second Herd' he was able to launch his solo career. He would be the leader on almost all of his recording sessions after 1950.

In the 1950s, Getz became popular playing cool jazz with Horace Silver, Johnny Smith, Oscar Peterson, and many others. His first two quintets were notable for their personnel, including Charlie Parker's rhythm section of drummer Roy Haynes, pianist Al Haig and bassist Tommy Potter. A 1953 line-up of the Dizzy Gillespie/Stan Getz Sextet featured Gillespie, Getz, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Max Roach.

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.marker State Departmentmarker tour of Brazilmarker, Getz recorded Jazz Samba in 1962 and it became a hit. The title track was an adaptation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba". Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for "Desafinado," from the same album. As a follow-up, Getz recorded Jazz Samba Encore! with one of the originators of bossa nova, Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa.

He then recorded the album Getz/Gilberto with Tom 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 cuts of all time. Getz/Gilberto won two Grammys (Best Album and Best Single), besting The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, a victory for bossa nova and Brazilian jazz. A live album, Getz/Gilberto Vol. 2, followed, as did Getz Au Go Go, a live recording at the Cafe Au Go Gomarker. Getz's affair with Astrud Gilberto brought an end to his musical partnership with her and her husband, and he began to move away from bossa nova and back to cool jazz. Even while still working with the Gilbertos, he recorded Nobody Else But Me, an album of straightforward jazz 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 eventually came out 30 years later, after Getz had died.

In 1972, Getz recorded in the fusion idiom with Chick Corea Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke. This group, without Getz, went on to become the famous Return to Forever, and many of the pieces including "La Fiesta" remained in their repertoire. In this period Getz experimented with an Echoplex on his saxophone, for which critics vilified him. He eventually discarded fusion and "electric jazz," returning to acoustic jazz, while at the same time gradually deemphasizing bossa nova, opting for more esoteric and less-mainstream jazz. He had a cameo in the movie The Exterminator (1980).

Towards the end of his life the then drug-free Getz had another creative peak with a group including the pianist Kenny Barron, whom Getz described as "my musical other half." His tenor saxophone of choice was the Selmer Mark VI, and on early recordings he uses a White Plastic Brilhart Tonalian mouthpiece, however from the Bossa Nova years forward, he preferred a hard rubber Otto Link Tone Edge 5* Slant Signature mouthpiece made in Florida. This mouthpiece seemed to be a perfect fit for his cool smooth tone. His reed of choice was the LaVoz Medium Hard.

In 1986, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Getz married Beverly Byrne, a vocalist with the Gene Krupa band, on November 7, 1946; they had three children together: Steven, David, and Beverly.

Getz became involved with drugs and alcohol while a teenager. In 1954, he was arrested for attempting to rob a pharmacy to get a morphine fix. As he was being processed in the prison ward of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centermarker, Beverly gave birth to their third child one floor below.

Getz tried to escape his narcotics addiction by moving to Copenhagenmarker. He married Swedish aristocrat Monica Silfverskiöld on November 3, 1956 and had two children with her: Pamela and Nicolas. Getz divorced Monica in 1987.

Zoot Sims, who had known Getz since their time with Herman, once described him as 'a nice bunch of guys', as a consequence of the wide behavioural range of which Getz was capable. In the final stages of his life Getz was able to end his addictions.

Getz died of liver cancer in 1991. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered at sea, off the coast of Malibumarker, Californiamarker.

In 1998 the 'Stan Getz Media Center and Library' at the Berklee College of Musicmarker was dedicated through a donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation.



  • The Stan Getz discography, Astrup, Arne. 1978
  • Stan Getz, Palmer, Richard. 1988.
  • Stan Getz: an appreciation of his recorded work, Kirkpatrick, Ron. 1992.
  • Stan Getz: a life in jazz, Maggin, Donald L. c1996.
  • Stan Getz: nobody else but me, Gelly, Dave. 2002.
  • Stan Getz: an annotated bibliography and filmography, Churchill, Nicholas. 2005.
  • Jazz saxophone: an in-depth look at the styles of the tenor masters, Taylor, Dennis, 2004.


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