Stanley Gayetzky was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up in the Bronx in New York City. Stan’s parents were Ukrainian Jews emigrating in 1903 and Stan grew up relatively poor. His mother pushed him to work his hardest and he had an interest in all instruments from an early age in addition to being at the top of the class. Getz received an alto saxophone from his father at the age of thirteen and by the time he was fifteen was hired to play professionally with Jack Teagarden’s band in 1943. Before Stan was even twenty he had played with Teagarden, Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Woody Herman. Getz had a hit in 1950 with Woody Herman’s band and his solo on ‘Early Autumn’ made him a star.
In 1953 the Dizzy Gillespie/Stan Getz Quartet was formed with Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Max Roach. In the late 1950s Stan ventured into cool jazz playing with Horace Silver, Johnny Smith, Oscar Peterson and others in Scandinavia. Getz returned to America and began introducing bossa nova jazz to the country. Stan recorded ‘Jazz Samba’ in 1962 and won a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance the following year for the tune Desafinado. Getz then recorded the album ‘Getz/Gilberto’ with Tom Jobin, Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud Gilberto. The album won two Grammys for Best Album and Best Single beating out the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Days Night’. In the 1970s Getz entered the fusion movement and recorded with Chick Corea, Tony Williams and Stanley Clarke. Without Getz this band would go on to become Return To Forever. Getz returned to bossa nova and straight ahead jazz and would continue through that medium till the end.
In the 1980s, in addition to performing with the likes of Kenny Baron and touring India, Australia and Europe, Stan taught at Stanford University where he served as Artist in Residence. In 1986 Getz was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Getz recorded his last album in Copenhagen in February of 1991 entitled ‘People Time’ and passed away in June of that year at age sixty four. Stan Getz leaves a legacy as one of the greatest jazz musicians ever as his nickname would suggest, known simply as ‘The Sound’. Getz has received many honors and tributes and continues to influence future generations of musicians.
“A good quartet is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other's ideas.”
“Life is too full of distractions nowadays. When I was a kid we had a little Emerson radio and that was it. We were more dedicated. We didn't have a choice.”
“We made records to document ourselves, not to sell a lot of records. I still feel that way. I put out a record because I think it's beautiful, not necessarily commercial.”
"It's like a language. You learn the alphabet, which are the scales. You learn the sentences, which are the chords, and then you talk extemporaneously with the horn. It's a wonderful thing to be able to speak extemporaneously, which is something I've never gotten the hang of. But musically, I love to talk off the top of my head. And that's what jazz music is all about." – Stan Getz.