Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


GETZ, Stan

(b 2 February 1927, Philadelphia PA; d 6 June 1991, Malibu CA) Tenor sax. Played with Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, several other bands while still a teenager, then with Woody Herman '47-9 a member of the 'Four Brothers' reed section that gave the band its sound, the most exciting of any white band of the era; his solo on 'Early Autumn' brought more fame. With Zoot Sims, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Al Cohn and a few others he led a new generation of first-class white jazz reedmen popular around the world, his tone and gift for beauty making him a particularly fine ballad player. First records as a leader were on Savoy '46 with quartet the Be Bop Boys; he led an influential quintet '51-3 with guitarist Jimmy Raney: despite his 'cool' image, Getz could play as hot as anyone; the complete quintet recordings were issued on three CDs by Mosaic. The Complete Roost Recordings '97 on Blue Note included tracks with Raney, Duke Jordan, Johnny Smith and Count Basie '50-4. Getz appeared in films The Benny Goodman Story '56, The Hanged Man '65, etc. A long association with Norman Granz began '52: many albums included West Coast Jazz '55, The Steamer '56, others with Oscar Peterson trio, Mulligan, J. J. Johnson, etc. East Of The Sun: The West Coast Session on Verve was a three-CD compilation of '55-7 tracks including perhaps too many alternate takes and false starts; West Coast Live '53-4 compiled tracks with Chet Baker.

He had been a drug addict, which was one reason Raney left the quintet in '53; he toured with JATP, lived in Europe '58-61, recorded in Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Stuttgart, Baden-Baden, Warsaw; Stan Meets Chet '58 on Verve (reissued on CD) was a rare reunion, made in Chicago with Jodie Christian on piano: Getz and Baker did not get along and the CD is interesting for the ways in which they try to ignore each other. Focus '61 announced Getz's return, with orchestra led by Hershy Kay (b 17 November 1919, Philadelphia; d 2 December 1981; also wrote ballet/opera scores and arranged Broadway shows), composed and arranged with strings by Eddie Sauter (who knew what to do with strings): some thought this album was some of his finest playing ever, but he rarely played any of the music in public, and his greatest fame lay ahead.

Jazz Samba '62 with Charlie Byrd introduced bossa nova in the USA and reached no. 1 on the Billboard pop album chart; Big Band Bossa Nova '62 with Gary McFarland made no. 13; Jazz Samba Encore! '63, with guitarist Luiz Bonfá and vocalist Maria Toledo on some tracks, and Reflections '64 also charted; then Getz/Gilberto '64 with Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud reached no. 2 with hit single 'The Girl From Ipanema'; Getz Au Go Go '64 with Astrud reached the top 25. He won Grammys '62 and 64, and when bossa nova was no longer a novelty the beauty of his treatment was still fresh as paint. He played on Bob Brookmeyer And Friends on Columbia '64; back on Verve Sweet Rain '67 with Chick Corea made the top 200 LPs. He played on film soundtrack Mickey One '65, composed and arranged by Sauter; recorded with the Boston Pops on RCA; with orchestras and big bands arranged by Claus Ogerman, Richard Evans, Johnny Pate; quartet in Paris with Gary Burton, Steve Swallow, Roy Haynes, in NYC with Corea, Ron Carter, Grady Tate (b 14 January 1932, Durham NC: drums, also sings; worked with Peggy Lee), all '66-7. Two-disc Dynasty '71 on Verve was recorded in London, partly at Ronnie Scott's, with organ, guitar and drums; Communications '71 in Paris with Swingle Singers and Michel Legrand; he also recorded with the Clarke/Boland big band. He met Corea in London, asked him to write for a new group; Captain Marvel '72 with Corea, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams and Airto '75 on Columbia was later on Verve in the UK; meanwhile the band without Airto recorded live At Montreux (Polydor) and Portrait (Lotus/Joker) '72.

Many albums featured Lou Levy on piano; four excellent items from '55-7 (West Coast Jazz, Stan Getz And The Cool Sounds, The Steamer and Award Winner) have been compiled on three-CD East Of The Sun: The West Coast Sessions on Verve. Getz recorded '74 in Milan and Warsaw for the first time with pianist Albert Dailey (b 16 June 1938, Baltimore; d 26 June 1984). The Best Of Two Worlds has Joao Gilberto, Dailey, others; This Is My Love vocalist Kimiko Kassei; The Master a quartet with Dailey, The Peacocks with Jimmy Rowles (including some vocals, duos for tenor and piano), all on CBS '75. Live At Montmartre '77 has Jo Anne Brackeen on piano (two volumes on Steeplechase; also on Inner City called Stan Getz Gold). Another World '77 on Columbia has a quartet at Montreux with Andy LaVerne on piano; Mort d'un Pourri on Philips, Children Of The World and Forest Eyes on CBS '77-8 were all with orchestras; The Great Jazz Gala and Midem Live '80 were recorded at Cannes with up to eleven pieces including LaVerne, Joe Farrell, vocalist Gayle Moran; various tracks on Personal Choice, Bellaphone, Jazz Gate, Rare Bird, RCA. The Dolphin '81 had a quartet with Levy, Pure Getz '82 with Jim McNeely on piano, both on Concord. Poetry '83 on Elektra was a beautiful duet LP with Dailey (two piano solos); they toured in USA early '84. Line For Lyons '83 has Chet Baker and McNeely; Let There Be Love on Concord has vocalist Dee Bell, eleven pieces including Willie Colón.

In the '70s Getz felt pressured to keep up to date; 'The phrase was "get current", I remember. So I hired some good young electric musicians and tried it ... but every night their confidence grew and they played louder, and I got more uncomfortable ... One night in a New York club I had all the amplification turned off. A young boy came up to me afterwards and asked what kind of sound system I was using, because it sounded so different.' Getz realized that the fan had never heard acoustic music in his life, and liked Getz's famous sound unencumbered by electronics, and from then on Getz refused to use amplifiers and microphones. (Quotes from an interview with Dave Gelly.) He became an artist-in-residence at Stanford U, and he achieved some serenity in later years (album Serenity '87); he remains one of the most popular jazzmen who ever lived. Biography Stan Getz: A Life In Jazz by Donald L. Maggin '96 was intensely disliked by Getz's daughter, who regarded it as exploitative.

Getz had been thrown into the deep end when he was a teenager, and had problems with alcohol as well as drugs; it was many years before he realized that the substances were hurting, not helping. Zoot Sims once said, "Stan? Yeah! Nice buncha guys!" But Sims and the others loved him, and meanwhile Getz knew he had offended a lot of people, and made a lot of amends before he died of cancer.