Tenor saxophone great Stan Getz, an 11-time Grammy Award winner whose mellow tones conjured up visions of The Girl From Ipanema for millions of jazz fans, died Thursday. He was 64. He died at his home in Malibu, said his publicist, Diana Baron of A&M Records. She did not disclose the cause of death, but author Leonard Feather, who writes on jazz for the Los Angeles Times, said Mr. Getz had cancer.
Although perhaps best known for his 1964 recording of the Brazilian standard The Girl from Ipanema, Mr. Getz was a dominant force on the jazz scene from the late 1940s.
He played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, and launched the careers of pianist Chick Corea and vocalist Diane Schurr.
Gillespie called Mr. Getz "one of the most gifted musicians that America has produced."
"He was sheer genius," Gillespie said from his New Jersey home early Friday. "And there's one thing about this man, he was the most melodic player on the jazz scene.
. He knew melody."
Mr. Getz's 1948 recording of Early Autumn with the Woody Herman band gained him recognition as an innovator of cool jazz.
In the 1960s, Mr. Getz recorded Jazz Samba, an album that included the hit Desafinado. The recording was one of the first to fuse jazz and bossa nova.
He was born Feb. 2, 1927, in Philadelphia. His family name had been shortened from Gayetzsky when his parents emigrated from Russia.
His father moved the family to New York when his son was 6. The boy's high school bandmaster recommended him for a scholarship to the Juilliard School, but the youngster quit school instead to go on the road.
He was playing professionally with Jack Teagarden in Los Angeles by the time he was 16.
Singer and pianist Bobby Short, who produced a 1985 concert at Carnegie Hall that included Mr. Getz, called him "a giant in his field."
"He was exacting and temperamental, but he had a right to be," Short said.
Mr. Getz grappled with drug addiction for years. A heroin addict since the age of 18, he was arrested in 1954 for trying to steal narcotics from a Seattle drugstore. He served a six-month jail sentence and resumed his career in 1955.
When he was young, he believed drugs enhanced his performance, but later changed his mind.
"Dope makes you think you're playing better," he said. "It's not true. The best way to play is completely sober, loose and happy . . . or unhappy."