Stan Getz

Stan Getz

Tenor Sax icon Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax

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June 6, 1991 (Age 64) died

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February 2, 1927 Birthday

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. Birthplace

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Stan Getz was one of the great jazz tenor saxophonists, known for his mellow tone and his melodic improvisations. A member of the "cool jazz" school of players he recorded over 150 albums and is credited with bringing Bossa Nova to American audiences. Getz began his career in the 1940s but his big break came in 1947 when he was hired to be part of Woody Herman's Second Herd Orchestra. His 1948 solo on “Early Autumn” was particularly celebrated. After leaving Herman, Getz led several of his own groups both in the US and in Europe, where he lived for a time. His 1961 album, "Focus" is considered by many to be a masterpiece of mid-century jazz. After releasing "Jazz Samba" in 1962 with Charlie Byrd he became associated with Bossa Nova and even more so in 1963 when he and João Gilberto released "Getz/Gilberto" featuring the hit song, "The Girl from Ipanema." Getz's style continued to evolve and he went on to record albums with Gary Burton, Bill Evans and Chick Corea. He explored modern jazz and fusion and continued to put out acclaimed albums over the next two of decades. Despite his life-long struggles with drug addiction, Getz produced many albums that are considered jazz classics. He passed away from liver cancer in 1991 at the age of 64.


Stan Getz was known as "the Sound" due to his warm tone and lyrical playing. In 1986 Stan Getz was inducted into DownBeat Magazine's Jazz Hall of Fame. Stan Getz was a favorite of President Lyndon B.Johnson and played at various White House events and state dinners during his presidency.

Early Life

Stan Getz was born in Philadelphia in 1927 and moved to New York City with his family as a young child. A straight-A student growing up, he was always interested in music and would play anything he could get his hands on including the harmonica, bass and piano. At age 13 his father bought him an alto saxophone and Getz quickly learned to play it, but fell in love with the sound of the tenor saxophone. He was soon practicing 8 hours a day and accepted into the All City High School Orchestra. He played at local events and parties and in 1943, at age 16, dropped out of school to join Jack Teagarden's band. Over the next few years he would go on to play with Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, before recording his first album as leader in 1946 at the age of 19.