You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

“The Sound” of Jazz

February 2, 2018

Jazz tenor saxophonist Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetsky), whose warm, smooth tones would earn him the nickname “The Sound,” was born in Philadelphia on this date 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 was continually evolving as a musician, and went through numerous phases in his career: He was a young sideman for Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and others; a soloist in the Woody Herman orchestra; 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 other jazz greats; the man who turned America on to bossa nova music, with Charlie Byrd and Astrud Gilberto, among others; a fusion experimenter, with Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea, among others; and a modern jazz player, especially with Kenny Baron. In 1986, he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Getz died of liver cancer on June 6, 1991.

“There are four qualities essential to a great Jazzman: taste, courage, individuality & irreverence. These are the qualities I want to retain in my music.” —Stan Getz

Watch Stan Getz playing in 1983: