One my top five saxophonists of all time, Stan Getz was blessed with a sound that was universally adored and revered by music lovers and musicians alike. His admiration for the legendary saxophonist, Lester Young was well known and he keeps the majesty of the Young legacy alive throughout his career. Getz had brief associations with numerous ensembles including Benny Goodman and most famously with Woody Herman in 1947. Getz had a lush, rich and beautiful sound that could captivate an audience in an instant. He would quickly go on to establish himself as one best leaders on the scene.
Stan Getz's long and illuminating career sparkles with a extarordinary list of albums including the iconic bossa nova album with Joao Gilberto entitled Getz/Joao (Emarcy; 1964) which catapulted Stan Getz to the masses. He had already recorded Jazz Samba (Emarcy; 1962) with guitarist Charlie Byrd, which featured the samba classic "Desafinado" but Getz/Gilberto album was the meteor that hit the airwaves with the vital impact. Getz/Gilberto featured another iconic anthem, "The Girl From Impenema," song by Astrud Gilberto.
Getz would return to acoustic and sometime piano-less quartet/quintet recordings for a string of phenomenal albums from '64 - '71, a long period that most artists only dream about (including Nobody Else But Me, Stan Getz & Bill Evans, Live In Paris and Dynasty) and all worth seeking out. The '70s were a time of not so memorable albums, but Getz still had the chops just not the right material and quality of musicians around him. Towards the early '80s Getz had a resurgence. His sound was really coming on strong with some great albums with Chet Baker (The Stockholm Concerts) and Kenny Barron (People Time, Anniversary, Serenity, and Yours And Mine) that really highlight the period. Stan Getz's final studio recording was Apasionado (A&M), a beautiful return to form with an orchestra that originally, I must admit, I didn't like on first listen but as the years have gone on I have appreciated it more and more with each listen.
While most of these records may be hard to find, I can honestly say that most of the Stan Getz compilations out there are actually pretty good. If you are just getting into him I would strongly recommend The Artistry of Stan Getz Vol. I and II which cover his most prolific and well known period with Emarcy and Verve labels. This material can also be found on a compilation call Stan Getz Gold (Universal). Gold is probably the easist one you will find at most stores. Despite its generic cover, its an awesome collection of all the right stuff. I hope you have a chance check out some of Stan Getz's stuff... and if you do, please let me know what you think.