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Listen to all of our great Arts Desk features on jazz artists making music in the present and the past. Enjoy!

How Cool Are Sax Masters Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz!

Two great sax players were born on the same day, just three years apart. On February 2nd, 1924, Sonny Stitt was born in Boston, and Stan Getz made his first appearance in Philadelphia on the same day in 1927. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, each had his own style that would influence future generations.

Listen to more about Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz in Susan's interview with Philadelphia-based sax player and music educator Larry McKenna.

Radio script:

Susan Lewis: Sonny Stitt played alto sax in Swing and Bop bands, inviting early comparisons to Charlie Parker. He joined Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1945, eventually switched to tenor, and became known for his astounding Bebop.


Philadelphia-based sax player Larry McKenna: Sonny, first of all, had great technique..he could maneuver his way through the chord changes. He could eat up the changes, never sounded as if he were doing exercises, always very melodic.

SL: By 1947, Stan Getz, was soloing with Woody Herman’s band; he would later go on to Cool Jazz and Bossa Nova winning his first Grammy for Desafinado.

LM: That’s when Stan first got known as the Bossa Nova guy. And later it was "The Girl from Ipanema." I remember meeting Stan Getz and it sounded like, at that time, that he was getting tired of that.  A lot of people don’t realize he was a good Bebop player before Bossa even came into the picture.


SL: Both Stitt and Getz play Bebop with Dizzy Gillespie on the 1958 CD For Musicians Only. How to tell them apart? 

LM: You have to just hear it. Its like people talking. Stan had his sound, and Sonny had his.. the way they articulate...it's like listening to two different people telling their stories. There are great stories they tell. It's very melodic, true to the song, they swing, they have great ideas. They’re great musicians, great sax players, too, but great musicians.


SL: Both made dozens of recordings as a leader. Stitt was one of the all-star members of the Giants of Jazz group in the '70s. Getz garnered five Grammy awards.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.