- Hardcover: 417 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (June 6 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688123155
- ISBN-13: 978-0688123154
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 798 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,115,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz Hardcover – Jun 6 1996
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When he was 16, Stan Getz was touring with Jack Teagarden. He won his first Down Beat reader's poll when he was 23. In the early 1960s, he helped inaugurate the bossa nova craze with his recordings of "Desafinado" and "The Girl from Ipanema." But there were times when he was nearly as well known for his messy personal life as his beautiful musicianship. A long-time abuser of drugs and alcohol, he was a notorious philanderer who beat his wife. Somehow, he managed to age gracefully. "The thing I will always be proud of is this," he told the New York Times not long before he died of cancer in 1991, "toward the end of my life, I became what I always should have been--a decent gentleman."
From Publishers Weekly
Maggin (Bankers, Builders, Knaves, and Thieves) chronicles the life and career of the great jazz saxophonist Getz (1927-1991), who was known especially for his sensuous tone and brilliant improvisations. Getz put his prodigious musical gifts to work early, joining Jack Teagarden's band at age 16 and moving on to Stan Kenton's group the following year. From then on, his musical fortunes never ceased to flourish. Nevertheless, his personal life was a disaster. Drugs. alcohol, depression, episodes of violence, a suicide attempt and lengthy divorce proceedings against his second wife provide a painful backdrop to the story of a consistently triumphant professional career. Maggin discusses Getz's performances and recordings (often delving into the backgrounds of many of the musicians with whom he worked) and analyzes his style and technique. While he presents the painful details of Getz's personal life, Maggin doesn't make much of an attempt to explain how Getz could have functioned so well on one level and failed so miserably on another. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Getz was bebop all the way, except for a period from 1963-1965 when he did what he is now famous for: the jazz style Bossa Nova. His most famous tune remains to this day "The Girl From Ipanema." Well it was written by J. Gilberto & sung by Astrud Gilberto with whom Stan had an affair. So that was that. He was also a heroin user which plagued him, & whenever he was to perform he would shoot up about a half hour before so the "nodding" would wear off.
He was known as the "sound" because of mhis smooth lyrical style, & was one of the Four Brothers in Woody Herman's big band. He became famous for his solo on "Early Autumn."
His career spanned 49 years and played with such bands as Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton & Woody Herman.He also had his own combo which specialized in bop, usually in a quartet setting. He used piano or guitar with bass plus drums.He used heroin till age 27, then became a violent alcoholic. However he lasted till 1991 when he died of liver cancer. But his days with heroin were to plague him again. I know this from experience.
Even people who didn't like jazz, liked Getz, & the tone of his tenor sax has never been duplicated. If you like jazz, you'll love this book. My only criticism is that it didn't focus strongly enough on his music, but you can't have it all.Highly recommended.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Like all good jazz bios it's a storehouse of information about all of those who inhabit the jazz world during a point in time--specifically Getz's.
Good copt from the distributor.
I only saw a very friendly and positive side of Stan, although I learned a bit about his troubled past. We always had a good rapport and got along very well together.
There was so much more that I obviously did not know about him, however, that was revealed in this book, especially about his early history and the end of his life, which was quite sad. He was a truly complex individual, with many sides to his personality. This book is well-written, authoritative, and extremely informative. It covers his life-span and provides the reader with insight into his life and his relationships with friends and family. It was especially helpful to me in terms of better understanding him and his behavior. I regret not having read it years earlier.
I will always remember Stan Getz in his healthier, happier, and positive years. That is what comes to mind when I think of him, even after having read this book. I realize, however, that his life was bitter-sweet, often troubled, and that he did not always make the "right" choices.
The trick is, once you have put the book away, to forget the negative and return to the music, appreciate the artist's art. Not always easy to do--but we do it. His art endures. You just wish he and his first wife (both junkies at one time) had been better parents to their kids, etc.
So then, was Getz a total lost cause? Of course not. He had his decent side--although when messed up on booze and/or drugs he was not pleasant to be around, to put it mildly.
Guy had demons, to be sure. Am talking about suicide attempts and depression. But then, how many of us haven't gone through a thing or two? It happens.
Don't know if this can be called the definitive bio on Stan the Man, but it is certainly worth reading.
Be warned, though, the last third is a heartbreaker. Just finished reading the entire thing. I'd like to give this tome 4 stars, instead of the three shown above, but (for some reason) amazon doesn't make it possible to change the rating.
I'm glad this biography was written.
First, is Maggin's inclusion of lots of extraneous detail. The book does not skimp on describing who Getz was playing with at any given time or where and when (to the hour, in some cases) he was playing. Getz was constantly on the road, and the author is admirable in not ignoring any facet of Getz's work. However, I often felt Maggin gave us far too much detail. The text often reads like liner notes of a CD box set. At times, paragraphs are nothing more than the musician line-up for a particular Getz gig. If you are an avid jazz fan, you might want to know such details, but sometimes it makes for reading about as enjoyable as the end credits of a movie. Another problem, related to this one, is Maggin's use of indented quotations. A lot of them. About every page has a block quotation. Maggin could have boiled down this material for us to make for faster reading. In short, the book is long on description, short on analysis.
Second, is the lack of focus in the first third of the biography. Until Getz is arrested for heroin use, the book felt more like a "life and times" than it should have. We don't need, for example, pages of information about who Benny Goodman was, especially when Getz's name disappears for pages at a time. Context is good, but a writer can easily give us too much. A biographer should never diverge from his subject for very long. When the author drifts, the reader drifts.
Third, is Getz the man. For Maggin, this is a larger problem than the excessive detail he includes. Maggin has no constraints when it comes to analyzing Getz's music: his subject clearly was a genius with the sax, and his output was prolific. There's lots of music to talk about. Getz the man is less impressive. He comes across as very two-dimensional person focused only on music and drugs. Getz could play regardless of how messed up he was, but the drugs turned him into a monster. He was a verbally and physically abusive man when drunk or stoned. And his abuse seemed reserved for his family more than his fellow musicians. I have a lot of respect for Getz the artist, but I came away not liking Getz personally and not having much respect for his intellect.
Fourth, is Getz the artist. Composing was not part of Getz's legacy, a fact which perhaps relegates him to the second tier of jazz greats. Unlike, say another subject of music biography, John Lennon, Getz did not write the greatest songs he played on. It was Carlos Jobim who wrote the hits on "Getz/Gilberto," and it was Chick Corea who wrote the greats songs on "Captain Marvel." Getz also didn't have much of a sense of irony. John Lennon always had some good lines for the press, and he had a wicked sense of humor. Getz, in contrast, seemed a rather humorless workaholic. Unlike Lennon--or say, Ian Anderson or Pete Townshend--Getz probably wouldn't be much fun to talk with at a dinner party. It's his lack of intellectual depth (as say, Miles Davis) or spiritual depth (John Coltrane) that makes 380 pages about him too much. Getz was like a Hall of Fame baseball player who was boring when not on the field.
Getz certainly deserves serious work done on his mastery of the sax, but as a personality, he's a disappointment.