Stan Getz was born in Philadelphia in 1927, his first real breakthrough came when he recorded an album for Woody Herman called "early autumn" when he was just 21. I think that this album captured his first maturity as a soloist characterized by a hard, pure, perfectly controlled sound mainly on the high register of the Tenor saxophone.

Soon after he demonstrated another characteristic, if not considered a pacesetter he was always alert to changes in fashion, if only as means of keeping stagnation at bay and he ceded nothing to Miles Davis as a spotter of talent.

He spent a couple of years moving around in quartets that nurtured the refinements in his own playing, soon after that he hired a pianist called Horace Silver, who was at that time a unknown player and he pushed Getz into a more forceful style.

In the next few years, he appeared in all manner of contexts leading an excellent quartet with Gary Burton on the vibraphone and touring with French organist Eddie Louiss. Classic recordings of his include:

"My life is music. And in some vague, mysterious, and subconscious way,
I have always been driven by a taut inner spring
which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music,
often-- in fact, mostly-- at the expense of everything else in my life."

- Stan Getz

Jazz legend Stan Getz was born in Philadelphia, PA on February 2, 1927. He had wanted to play a musical instrument since he was six, and at age twelve he bought a harmonica. In junior high school, his gym teacher/band director asked him to play bass in the band, where Getz realized he had a certain musical acuity the other students didn't possess. When he was 13, his father bought him an alto saxophone, and Getz fell in love with music. After trying different types of saxophones, he decided that the tenor saxophone was for him.

At the tender age of 16, in 1943, Getz tried out for Jack Teagarden's band, since Teagarden needed to replace players taken by the draft. Getz, with his terrific tenor sax sound, he was a shoe-in. After playing for "Big Tea," Getz joined a plethora of bands led by some of the greatest bandleaders, including Stan Kenton in 1944, Jimmy Dorsey in 1945, and Benny Goodman in 1945 and 1946. But where Getz shined was in Woody Herman's Second Herd band from 1947-1949. He gained national notoriety with the recording of "Early Autumn" with Woody Herman's band. Getz also soloed on "Four Brothers" along with Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward, and Serge Chaloff.

By the early 1950's, Getz began to depart from the style of his idol, Lester Young, after discovering pianist Horace Silver. Getz then formed a quintet featuring Jimmy Raney to play a smoother version of bop that some would call "cool jazz." He also played with Charlie Parker's Birdland Sextet and with Miles Davis. In the '50s he became one of the most popular jazz musicians, and along with his fame came what addles many of celebrity: drug addiction. He moved to Denmark in 1958, hoping to overcome his habit. In 1961, Getz came back and recorded what he called his personal favorite album, Focus, with Eddie Sauter's Orchestra.

By the 1960, Getz had once again changed styles, incorporating Brazilian bossa nova into jazz. At first he recorded with Charlie Byrd, then he worked with Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobin and singers Joao and Astrud Gilberto. By 1963 he had once again made a new style popular with his famous recording of "The Girl from Ipanema." By the next year, however, Getz had toned down the bossa nova in favor of a more straightforward sound. His quartet dropped the piano in favor of Gary Burton's vibraphone and recorded with Bill Evans. In 1967, Chick Corea would join his band and record the classic album Sweet Rain. In 1969, Getz once again fell into drug usage and moved to Malaga, Spain.

But Getz would soon come back. In 1971 Getz recorded Dynasty with Frenchman Eddie Louiss, and again recorded with Chick Corea for 1972's Captain Marvel. Jimmie Rowles recorded The Peacocks with Getz in 1975, and Getz worked with pianist Joanne Brackeen with his quartet in 1977. Getz went on to experiment with even more electronic piano sounds, working on some fusion tunes with keyboardist Andy Laverne.

In 1981, Getz signed to Concord Jazz and reverted to an acoustic-only backup trio, pleasing many jazz purists. He would continue to record until his death from cancer in 1991. His final recording was 1991's People Time, a duet set with pianist Kenny Barron. Getz would be remembered more for his embracing and popularization of jazz trends, rather as the instigator of new fashions in jazz. Getz made over 300 recordings in his career, many of them for preeminent jazz label, Verve. His ear for talent and amazing sound on the tenor sax (people referred to his lush tone as "The Sound") secured his place in the annals of jazz.

"Let's face it, we'd all like to sound like that-- if we could."
- John Coltrane



All Music Guide

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