Today is the birthday of Stan Getz, who’d have been turning 85 if he’d managed to survive the punishment he administered to his body over several decades. It’s the standard life story of a jazzman who came of age in the mid-20th century: early discovery of talent, quick rise to prominence, heroin, marriage, jail, divorce, booze, remarriage, career rebound, with one cruel twist: within two years of being fully sober, Getz found out he had cancer. Four years later, in 1991, he passed away.
His fellow musicians called him The Sound, and he was a master of both bebop and cool jazz. Perhaps his most enduring legacy comes from the key role he played in bringing bossa nova to the US. He flew down to Washington, DC, one day to record a few songs that guitarist Charlie Byrd had brought back from a diplomatic tour of South America. (Byrd was a friend of legendary disk jockey Felix Grant, who had extensive contacts in Brazil.) Those recordings were released in 1962 as Jazz Samba, the album that propelled bossa nova into US pop culture.
A spinoff from that album was a two-minute version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Desafinado, released as a single. Here it is, offered for your listening pleasure: