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Famous Saxophone Players Stan Getz

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What’s the first tune you think of when you hear Getz’s name? It’s The Girl from Ipanema, isn’t it? A Brazilian bossa nova song, Getz and João Gilberto recorded it on their 1963 album, simply titled Getz/Gilberto with Gilberto and his wife Astrud sharing the vocals. Getz went on to have a worldwide hit with Astrud singing.

Getz doesn’t even make an appearance on the track until over two and a half minutes in. But when he does – his tone is breathy and soft, redolent of Lester Young, one of his major influences.

However, there is so much more to the man than a single track!

Born in 1927 in Philadelphia, the Getz family moved to New York during the Depression. Young Getz worked hard at school and got his first saxophone aged 13. From the age of 16, he began playing in Jack Teagarden’s band, going on to play in many of the major bands during the 1940s: Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and more. He earned a soloist spot with Benny Herman in the decade’s later years, enabling him to launch his solo career.

Another profile-raising opportunity came in 1952, when Getz played with guitarist Johnny Smith in his quintet. The single Moonlight in Vermont became a rare (for jazz) and huge hit record.

I n the 1950s, Stan played a lot of cool jazz with some of the greats of the time, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie and many others.

It was as a populariser of the bossa nova style in the 1960s that he continued to have great success. However Verve, his record label didn’t like his 1984 jazz album with a new quartet, too different, it wouldn’t be released until after he died. He continued to perform and record through the 1980s, including a guest spot on Huey Lewis & the News’s Small World.

Watch that here:

Getz’s sound and set-up:

Stan had a very soft airy sound, because of the unusually hard reeds he used. He coupled this with an incredibly lyrical ability of weaving his way through solos, like his major influence Lester Young. His fantastic ability to musically compliment singers and other soloists made him a popular person to have as a guest on albums. 

His set-up 1986-1991: Sax Selmer Mk VI. Mouthpiece -Otto Link Tone edge Early Babbitt  5*, Rico 3 ½ – 4 ½ or Vandoren 3 ½

Getz’s personal life was complicated by addiction to drugs and alcohol. He had five children, three by his first wife, also an addict, then two by his second wife, Monica who was Swedish. His access over the years was subject to various orders due to his addiction and possession of guns at times. He died of liver cancer in 1991, and his ashes were poured off the California coast from his saxophone case.

In terms of the Google’s most searched saxophonists he is equal 8th with Candy Dulfer, with 9900 monthly searches in the US.

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