Stan Getz

Stan GetzOn this day in 1927, the great jazz saxophonist Stan Getz was born. Let’s be honest: he first came to prominence because he was the white Lester Young. His earliest recordings are little more than loving copies of the master. But we must give credit where it’s due: Getz was a great musician and his career proves it.

Getz started playing professionally at the age of 16. By twenty, he was a featured soloist for Woody Herman’s band. But he played with many people at that time — a trait that would come to define his career. He played on hundreds of albums where he was a featured performer. I feel I know Getz pretty well and yet I have only heard a very small part of his recordings.

One notable collaboration was with Bill Evans in 1964. Here is one of the high points of that encounter, “Funkallero”:

And here he is in 1960 with two titans, John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson:

Getz worked in a lot of styles — most especially Latin music, where he was something of a pioneer. He is most known for his work with João Gilberto, in particular, the international hit and bossa nova classic, “The Girl from Ipanema.” Here is a live performance of it with Getz looking a little pudgy:

Finally, for those really interested, here is a whole set from late in his life along with Kenny Barron on piano:

Happy birthday Stan Getz!

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