Stan Getz – “The Sound”
Pioneer of Cool, Bossa Nova & Modern Jazz
Jazz saxophonist Stanley Getz was born February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia, PA. He was born to Polish immigrants who came to the US from the Ukraine. The family later moved to the Bronx. An excellent student, he also had an early passion for music. He fell in love with the saxophone and at 13 was soon practicing 8 hours a day.
At 16, he was hired for Jack Teagarden’s band and was picked up in rapid succession by Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman.
And his career took off from there.
I never consciously tried to conceive of what my sound should be…I believe it was because of the bands I played with from the ages of 15 to 22. The first one was Jack Teagarden, who we all know played trombone, but his sound was so great…so legitimate, and effortless. I never tried to imitate anybody, but when you love somebody’s music, you’re influenced. Then I was with Benny Goodman when I was 18, and I believe his sound had an influence on me; such a good sound that he had in those days, you know? And in-between I heard Lester Young, of course, and it was a special kind of trip to hear someone like Lester, who sounded so good and almost classical in a warm way. He took so much ‘reed’ out of the sound. I really don’t know how I developed my sound, but it comes from a combination of my musical conception and no doubt the basic shape of the oral cavity. I did always try to get as much of the reed out of the sound as I could… and hear more of the breath. I came from an era when we didn’t use electronic instruments. The bass wasn’t even amplified. The sound was the sound that you got, and I discovered that my dark sound could be heard across a room clearer than somebody with a reedy sound…I have to work hard to get my sound because I use a harder reed (med-hard Van Doren). People think that I play effortlessly. I remember doing a record date with Bill Evans and afterwards he said to me, you make it sound so easy but when I get right up next to you you’re working hard and making it sound easy!
At 3 A.M. on the morning of Thursday, June 6, 1991, Stan asked to be helped in his wheelchair to the window next to his bed, so that he could gaze out at the ocean. Stan slipped away at 5 P.M. that night. He was 64.
On Sunday, June 9, Stan’s ashes were poured out of his saxophone case six miles off the coast of Malibu Beach by his grandson, Chris. The sky was clear and the water was still. The song coming out of the CD player was Strayhorn’s “Blood Count”. The yacht they stood on belonged to trumpeter Shorty Rogers, Stan’s friend from the Bronx.
Here’s the entire final concert from the cool jazz saxophone icon. He is featured performing in Germany at the Munich Philharmonic Hall during the Summer of 1990.
- Stan Getz, tenor saxophone
- Kenny Barron, piano
- Alex Blake, bass
- Terri Lyne Carrington, drums
- Eddie Del Barrio, synthesizer
- Frank Zottoli, synthesizer
- I’m Gonna Get You On A Slow Boat To China
- Soul Eyes
- Seven Steps To Heaven
- El Cajon
- Yours And Mine
- Lonely Lady
- Blood Count
- What Is This Thing Called Love?
- People Time
- Amorous Cat