February 2, 1927-June 6, 1991
Born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the family was eventually persuaded to move to the Bronx, NY seeking better jobs. By age 13 he was humming many of Benny Goodman’s solos by heart and plucking out the tunes on piano. While attempting to play tunes on harmonica his father purchased his first alto saxophone for $35 on February 16th 1940.
Stan joined the Jack Teagarden band at age fifteen taking to smoking and drinking to ease his anxiety.
Getz studied the work of his idol saxophonist Lester Young and learned his solos note for note. By age 18 he had joined the Benny Goodman band. He went on to join Woody Herman and helped to open club Birdland alongside Charlie Parker and Lester Young December 15th1950 at age 22. By Christmas of the same year he joined an all-star presentation at Carnegie Hall with Miles Davis, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Sarah Vaughn and others. By this time had switched to tenor saxophone and had placed 2nd in the Downbeat Poll.
He became popular performing what was then called “cool jazz” with Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, Roy Haynes, Ray Brown & Herb Ellis.
He teamed with guitarist Charlie, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, 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. It sold over one million copies, He then recorded the album Getz/Gilberto, in 1963, 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 tracks.
Getz later recorded in the fusion idiom with Chick Corea, drummer Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke.
Though his life was often plagued with drug addictions and a brief prison stay he is most remembered for his for his silvery tenor saxophone tone and his teamed work with Gilberto introducing the Bossa Nova to American audiences. He appeared many times at the “Famous Ballroom” in Baltimore with the Left Bank Jazz Society and has a live Baltimore recording released with Jack Dejohnette and Chick Corea.
Getz died of liver cancer in June 6, 1991. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea, 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.