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February 2: Stan Getz

Lawrence Bush
February 2, 2010

Stan GetzSaxophonist Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetsky) was born on this day in 1927. His parents, Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, bought him a sax (and a clarinet) when he was 13 and he began to practice obsessively. He attended Julliard briefly before going professional at age 15. Getz went through many phases as a musician: as a young sideman for Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman and others; as a soloist in the Woody Herman orchestra; as a cool jazz bandleader in Copenhagen (where he went to escape his drug addiction) with Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, among many other jazz greats; as the man who turned America on to bossa nova music, with Charlie Byrd and Astrud Gilberto, among others; as a fusion experimenter, with Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea, among others; and as a modern jazz player, especially with Kenny Baron. In 1986, Getz was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991.

If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it’s like the human voice.” — Stan Getz

Watch Stan Getz playing in 1983:

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.