The Stan Getz video posted here over the weekend drew an array of comments from Rifftides readers. One of them was from his daugher Bev, who took impassioned exception to praise for the late Don Maggin’s Getz biography. In response, I sent Ms. Getz a private message about the last time I spoke with her father. She asked if I would post the story.
I think it was in 1988 or ’89 that your dad played at one of Ken Poston’s West Coast Jazz celebrations. The concert was at a theater in Hermosa Beach. We got there early, and I wandered around for a while. In the parking lot behind the theater, I saw Stan sitting alone on a low cement barrier and went over to say hello.
“Who is it?” he said.
I told him. He focused those incredible blue eyes on me for several seconds, then said, “I think I owe you an apology.” He did, for something that happened more than two decades earlier. I accepted, we shook hands, and I continued my stroll.
The next time I saw Lou Levy, which was often in those days, without resurrecting what the apology was for I told him of the encounter. Lou said, “Yeah, he’s been doing that a lot lately.” I know that toward the end Lou visited Stan regularly in Malibu. He cherished the friendship that began in their days with Woody Herman. He often mentioned it. I miss them both.
In return, Ms. Getz sent this, printed with her permission:
He really wasn’t a monster. Yes, he was a haunted soul, but the drugs and alcohol made him ugly. That ugliness wasn’t the ‘real’ Stan, revealed. His heart was truly good. I’ve seen chemicals change people in the most shocking ways. So sad.
Two days before he passed, Lou, Shorty Rogers and Johnny Mandel came to the house to see him. The three of them stood in front of him with tears streaming down their faces. Dad looked like an Auschwitz victim at that point (the way that cancer can ravage a body) and he had basically lost his voice. I’ll never forget the way he looked at his three friends. If I can put it into words, it would be something like…”What the hell are you guys crying about?? I’m not dead yet! Tell me some jokes! Talk about good times past! Cry at my funeral, but I don’t want to see your effin’ tears now”! I had to take them aside and ask them to please try and put on a brave face, for their friend’s sake, which they absolutely did!
This memory has never left me. As clear today as it was then, June 4, 1991. A Tuesday.
On her YouTube page, Ms. Getz presents a variety of videos featuring her father, including this 1969 appearance on French television by his quartet with Flora Purim.