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Stan Getz’s East End Roots

Peter Gardner

I hope to God he lives forever.
— Jazz authority Alun Morgan on hearing Stan Getz in his prime.


Stan Getz apparently claimed that one of his forbears looked after the horses of the Tsar of Russia. [1] Verifying that detail of Getz’s background might well prove a daunting endeavor. Yet, as more public records become available, the task of correcting and corroborating details about people’s backgrounds becomes easier. This short essay is primarily concerned with such an undertaking; it focuses on two of Stan Getz’s grandparents, their children, and their journey to America, and it tries to set some records straight.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century and at the start of the twentieth, pernicious anti-Semitic laws and attacks on Jewish communities and property resulted in an exodus of Jews from Poland, Russia, and what is now Ukraine. Those fleeing oppression often hoped to start new lives in the West, and between 1880 and 1920, millions of Jews fled Russia for their goldene medineh (golden land), America. [2] Many of those who fled from the East came first to England, to seek passage to America or to earn enough to pay for an Atlantic crossing. Some came to give England a try; some came to England to stay. In about 1903, a man in his mid-twenties named Harris and a younger woman, Rebecca, [3] were part of this great movement of people. Harris and Rebecca’s first son, born in London’s East End, was the father of Stan Getz, one of the greatest tenor saxophone players in the history of jazz.


In his book Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, Dave Gelly writes:

Both his (Stan’s) sets of grandparents, the Gayetskis and the Yampolskys, walked and begged lifts from Kiev to the West in 1903. After stopping briefly in Paris, the Gayetskis settled in Whitechapel, in the East End of London, where Stan’s grandfather, Haris Gayetski, started a small tailoring business. This was where Stan’s father, Al, was born. [4]

The family’s stay in Whitechapel was apparently brief, for according to Ron Kirkpatrick, another writer on Stan Getz, the family “lived in Whitechapel for a year, working as tailors to raise the fare to America. Fortunately they were unable to afford steerage on the Titanic, eventually crossing on the Lusitania.” [5] The family’s luck at not being able to afford tickets for Titanic’s maiden voyage is endorsed by Gelly, who goes on to say that the “Gayetskis finally sailed for New York in 1914, aboard the Lusitania. Once again, Haris Gayetski was lucky. If he had waited until the following year the family might have perished when the Lusitania was sunk by the Imperial German Navy in May 1915.” [6]

Another biographer, Donald Maggin, has tried to provide more details of Stan’s father and his father’s parents. Maggin writes that “Harris Gayetskis” and his “wife, Becky, struggled across Europe [...] They finally made it to London where they lived in the Whitechapel district and where Harris owned a small tailoring shop. Al (named Alexander Cecil) was their first child, born in London on July 24, 1904. He was followed in London by Phil (named Pincus) in 1906 and another boy, born in 1908, who died during an epidemic in 1912.” [7] Maggin also repeats the story that Harris “could not get a booking on that ‘unsinkable liner,’” adding that Harris “brought his family to America on another ship in 1914.” [8]

Census Details

What we have already seen raises questions about the claim that Harris and his family only stayed in Whitechapel for one year. But questions can be raised about much of what we have just read. Grounds for some of these questions come initially from the 1911 Census for England and Wales. [9]

Forms for this census had to be completed in April 1911, and there is a form that a Harris Gaietsky appears to have filled in and signed himself. The writing, for example, is consistent with the signature and there is no indication that someone other than Harris was responsible for its completion. Furthermore, unlike the wedding certificate that will be considered presently, there is no mark accompanied by the words “This is the mark of Harris....” If the 1911 Census form was filled in by Harris, it shows how he spelled his family name. The form says he is aged 34, his wife, Rebecca, is aged 28, they have two sons, Alec, aged 6, and Pinkus, aged 5, and they live in two rooms at 92 Romford Street, Whitechapel. According to the same document, Harris and Rebecca have been married seven years and they have had three children, two of whom are still living. Harris gives his occupation as “Tailor (Maker)” and under Employer, Worker, or Working on Own Account, he has put “Worker.”

Under Birthplace, Harris has put what looks like “Zutomoy, Russian” for himself and “Addessa, Russian” for Rebecca. The birthplace for Alec is given as “London, Whitechapel” and the birthplace of Pinkus is given as “London, Bethnal Green.” Under Nationality, Harris and Rebecca are said to be “Russian.” Alec and Pinkus were also said to be “Russian,” but this has been crossed out and nothing else inserted.

The Schedule for the 1911 Census gives the address for Harris and his family as 92 Fieldgate Mansions, Whitechapel, while, which has taken the data from The National Archives of the UK, 1911, lists the address as “92 Fieldgate Mansions, Romford Street, Whitechapel E.” Fieldgate Mansions are still standing. One block of the Mansions is in Romford Street, other blocks being in Fordham, Fieldgate, and Myrdle Streets in what is now the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

If the details submitted for the 1911 Census are correct, by April 1911 Harris and Rebecca had been married for seven years, which could mean that they married between May 1903 and April 1904. Interestingly, the England and Wales Marriage Index, 1837–1915 records a Harris Gayatsky marrying a Rebecca Katlerwsky in October 1903 in the district of Mile End Old Town, London, which is close to Whitechapel. [10]

I submitted details of this marriage to the General Register Office for England and Wales and obtained a copy of the marriage certificate for Harris Gayatsky and Rebecca Katlerwsky. Neither Harris nor Rebecca had signed in the designated place on the document, but each had put a kikel (circle), which were said to be the marks of the bride and groom. The document says they were married on October 18, 1903, in the Registration District of Mile End Old Town and that the father of bachelor Harris was a tailor called Justin Gayatsky. Spinster Rebecca’s father is named as Hyman Katlerwsky, a coppersmith. The marriage certificate also says that the marriage had been “solemnized” at the East London Synagogue, Mile End Old Town, and that Harris and Rebecca both reside at 54, Oxford Street. But, before we start to consider life in one of London’s most famous streets and leap to conclusions about the young couple residing in splendor, it should be noted that there was an Oxford Street in Whitechapel in 1903, that it had a residential property numbered 54 and that this Oxford Street lost its name and became part of Stepney Way in the 1930s.

One matter of particular interest in the marriage certificate concerns the couple’s listed ages. Harris is said to be 26, which is in line with his being 34 at the time of the 1911 Census. Rebecca, on the other hand, is said to be 23 on the marriage certificate and 28 on the Census form some seven and a half years later. Here one might speculate that, fearing she was underage, Rebecca made sure her stated age in 1903 meant she was free to marry whom she pleased, but later gave her correct age for the census.

This information about Harris and Rebecca’s marriage could, perhaps, raise a question about Gelly’s account of one set of Stan Getz’s grandparents, “the Gayetskis,” travelling “to the west in 1903” and “stopping briefly in Paris.” [11] If Harris and Rebecca were not married before October 1903, talk of “the Gayetskis” traveling and stopping could be misleading. The same might be said about Maggin’s claim that “Harris [...] and Harris’s wife, Becky, struggled across Europe.” [12] Would it be nearer the mark to say that Harris and a Rebecca Katlerwsky struggled across Europe? Alternatively, it could be that Harris and Rebecca, like many others, having been through a religious wedding ceremony in their homeland, felt the need for their being man and wife to have official recognition in their new country, and the easiest course was to present themselves as bachelor and spinster to be married.

The details submitted for the 1911 Census also indicate that one of Harris and Rebecca’s children died before the Census was completed. This in turn casts doubt on Maggin’s report that Harris and Becky’s third child, “another boy, born in 1908 [...] died during an epidemic in 1912.” [13] Research into an index of deaths for 1837–2007 shows that a Louis Giataky, born about 1909, died in the district of Whitechapel in 1910. [14] Again I contacted the General Register Office for England and Wales, submitted the details I had, which included the relevant volume number of the death index and the appropriate page number. I subsequently received a copy of a death certificate from 1910 of a death that occurred in the sub-district of Mile End New Town in the registration district of Whitechapel. The certificate registers the death of an eighteen-month-old boy, Louis Giatsky, who died on July 30, 1910. The appearance of “Giataky” rather than “Giatsky” in the death index is perhaps the result of an error transferring the name from the death certificate. Louis is said to have died of measles and bronchopneumonia at 66 Pelham Street, Mile End New Town, in the presence of his father, Harris Giatsky. In the pre-vaccination era, especially in communities where respiratory and other medical problems were common, the impact of some so-called “childhood” illnesses could be devastating. In the decade before the First World War, there could be as many as one hundred and ninety deaths a week caused by measles in London alone.

The document that registers Louis’s death lists his father’s occupation as “a Tailor’s Baster.” A baster, I believe, is someone who uses long tacking stitches on garments in preparation for their later sewing. In his authoritative study The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870–1914, Lloyd P. Gartner notes that while many Jews worked in the clothing industry in London’s East End, the most recent immigrants, the “greeners,” performed some of the lowest tailoring tasks, and that within the industry’s “fine spun hierarchy of skill and technique” before the First World War the most prestigious positions were rarely filled by immigrants. [15] The picture Gartner paints of immigrants in London’s tailoring industry prior to 1914 is of their slaving away for long hours, for little pay, in cramped, unsanitary and poorly regulated “sweating dens” accompanied by the constant rhythm of “unstable little firms...going under and new ones...being opened.” [16]

Research into the England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837–2008 showed there was a Louis Giathky, born in Whitechapel in 1909 and whose birth was registered in the first quarter of that year. [17] A request to the General Register Office for a copy of the birth certificate for Louis Giathky, which cited the appropriate volume and page numbers of the Index, produced a copy of a certificate for Louis Giatsky, born on January 29, 1909. Again, there seems to have been a problem transferring Louis’s name to an index. The birth certificate says Louis’s father was Harris Giatsky and his mother was Rebecca Giatsky, formerly Kutlerefsky, though it could be Kurlerefsky. Their address is given as 160 Hanbury Street, Mile End New Town, the registration district is Whitechapel and Harris’s occupation is “Tailor’s Baster.” Hanbury Street runs parallel with and is a very short distance from Pelham Street, where eighteen-month-old Louis Giatsky died in July 1910.

Interestingly and, perhaps, relevantly, the street where Louis was born seems to have acquired some notoriety in 1884, when one of its houses was described in an article in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. [18] The property in question contained a tailoring “den” whose floor space was only thirty-four square yards and whose immigrant workforce numbered eighteen. Above the “den” was severely cramped and unsanitary living accommodation for more immigrants and their children. The Lancet article expressed a lack of surprise “that so large a proportion of working tailors break down from diseases of the respiratory organs” [19]. In other words, the conditions found in Hanbury Street were not at all uncommon within England’s tailoring industry at that time. One gathers that if conditions for immigrant workers in tailoring improved after the Factory Act of 1901 or during the ten years Harris lived in London, the improvement was, at best, slight. If respiratory diseases were rife among adults, the effect on infants weakened by other illnesses is not difficult to envisage.

So, on the strength of these findings, I think it can be safely concluded that Louis Giataky and Louis Giathky were Louis Giatsky, who could have been Stan Getz’s uncle. He was Harris and Rebecca’s third child and he died, not in 1913, but in July 1910. The details of Pincus Giatsky provide additional supporting evidence that surely makes our case about Louis conclusive.

Given that Jewish law requires that as short a period as possible elapses between death and burial, it is worth noting that the Federation of Synagogues’ Cemetery in London’s Edmonton has details of an infant being buried on July 31, 1910, one day after Louis’s death. However, I gather that being classed as an infant in such cases simply means that the burial was of someone not yet in his teens. So, the Louis who was buried need not have been a young child. The burial plot has no headstone, and I do not know if it ever had, but there is a marker. It says that Louis Grotsky is buried there. I have searched the relevant indexes for the death of a Louis Grotsky (as well a Louis Gotsky, Grosky, and Gosky) in London in July 1910 without any success. I have also been told by the authorities concerned with the Edmonton Cemetery that the likelihood of two young Jewish Louis Gs dying on July 30 or 31, 1910 in the areas of London covered by the cemetery is very slim. Perhaps Louis’s grave is now marked with yet another variation of his family name, albeit one that is difficult to explain.

As well as listing the birth of Louis Giathky, the same Birth Registration Index has two more entries that could be of relevance to our inquiry: it has a Pincus Giatsky, born in Whitechapel in 1906, whose birth was registered in the April–June quarter of that year and an Alexander Gaeitzky, whose birth was in the Mile End Old Town district of London and was registered in the July–September quarter of 1904. [20]

It may be noted that all of the districts mentioned so far, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, and Mile End Old and New Towns, with the exception of Edmonton, are close to one another and are now in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

A copy of Pincus Giatsky’s birth certificate was provided by the General Register Office and it shows his name to be as it appears in the Index. The certificate says Pincus was born on February 27, 1906, to Harris and Rebecca Giatsky, living at 66 Pelham Street, Mile End New Town. This is the address where Louis died in 1910. This means that after living at 66 Pelham Street and living in Hanbury Street, where Louis was born, the family came back to the same address in Pelham Street. Pincus’s birth certificate lists Harris’s occupation as “Tailor’s Baster” and Rebecca’s former name begins “Kut” and ends “lefsky,” but the middle letters are difficult to read.

A copy of Alexander Gaeitzky’s birth certificate confirms the birth of a boy named Alexander on July 24, 1904, to Harris and Rebecca Gaeitzky, and gives Rebecca’s former name as Katerofsky. At the time of Alexander’s birth Harris and Rebecca were living at 140 Jubilee Street, and the birth was registered in the sub-district of “Mile End Old Town South Western.” Harris’s occupation is given as “Journeyman Ladies Tailor.”

The birth date of July 24, 1904 agrees with that given by Maggin in Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, though I have unearthed no evidence of Alexander having “Cecil” for a middle name or that Harris owned a tailor’s shop. As a journeyman ladies’ tailor, he may have been self-employed and worked when and where he was needed, which might have included “sweating dens,” while as a tailor’s baster in 1906, 1909, and 1910 and a “tailor...worker” in 1911, one imagines he worked for various “unstable little firms” that had their own “dens.”

As for Jubilee Street, it would appear to have survived as it was for a few more decades, and unlike much of the East End, most of it even survived the Blitz. In fact, the 1948 Ordnance Survey Map for Stepney shows that number 140 and many of its neighbouring terraced houses are still standing, and the Electoral Register for the same period shows that these properties were well occupied. Eventually the houses in Jubilee Street, along with many other East End properties, would be demolished to make way for new developments that helped satisfy the great postwar need for social housing.

What should we make of the Harris family’s frequent moves within London’s East End in the space of seven years (Oxford Street to Jubilee Street to Pelham Street to the neighbouring Hanbury Street, then back to Pelham Street, and then to Romford Street, with other possible addresses in between)? I am afraid I lack the knowledge to supply an answer, though family size, varying levels of poverty or employment being linked to accommodation could be factors. What I can supply is information about a move after 1911; it seems that by 1913 Harris and family were living at another East End address. This information comes from Ellis Island.

Journey to America

Under the heading Names and Descriptions of Alien Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton on the Oceanic of the White Star Line on May 28, 1913, bound for New York, we have by “Contract Ticket Number 587”: Harris, Becky, Alex and Piny (not Pincus or Pinkus) Gayetsky described as “Tailor, h’wife, child, ✓,” the last being a tick mark, presumably for ditto. Their ages are given as 36, 32, 8, and 6 respectively, and they are all listed as Russian. [21]

This evidence casts doubt on Kirkpatrick’s claim that the family crossed the Atlantic “on the Lusitania,” [22] on Maggin’s claim that Harris “brought his family to 1914,” [23] and on Gelly’s claim that the family “sailed for New York in 1914, aboard the Lusitania.” [24] Concerning the idea that the family was “lucky” in not sailing on the Lusitania the following year because the ship was “sunk by the Imperial German Navy in May 1915,” [25], it should be noted that when she was torpedoed, the Lusitania was traveling in the opposite direction, from America to England. Still, the opportunity to mention the two most iconic liners of the period in the same paragraph, White Star’s Titanic, where steerage was too costly, and Cunard’s Lusitania, whose sinking was of such wartime significance, sounds like a writer’s dream. As for the White Star’s Oceanic, she was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast and at the time of her maiden voyage in 1899 was the largest ship in the world. The Oceanic was commissioned into the Royal Navy in August 1914 and fitted with guns. On September 8, 1914, in what reports speak of as clear weather and flat calm seas, she ran aground off the island of Foula in the Shetlands, could not be refloated and became a wreck. HMS Oceanic was one of the Royal Navy’s earliest casualties in the war to end all wars.

Having sailed from Southampton on May 28, the Oceanic reached New York on June 5, 1913, and Ellis Island Records have the List Or Manifest Of Alien Passengers For The United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival for the Oceanic. This lists Harris, 36, Beckil(?), 32, Alex, 8, now described as “Scholar,” and Piny, 6, Gayetsky. It indicates they are Russian and their “Race” is “Hebrew.” Other details include the family’s last address which is given as “18 St. Ma(...?) St., London, E.” The street’s name is very difficult to read. There was a St. Mary Street in Whitechapel at this time, but, just to raise another possibility, an electoral register for 1915 lists a Solomon Gaetsky living at 18 St. Mark Street, Whitechapel, as does the 1911 Census. Solomon and his wife were born in Russia in 1877, came to London with two of their children, and had other children in London. So, is “Gaetsky” a variation of Harris’s family name, and did Harris and family stay with relatives before setting off for America? Whatever the answers, and even if we cannot discover the exact last London address of Harris and his family, it is clear that we have not come across this 1913 residence thus far in this inquiry. This means we have another address to add to an already well-populated list.

Returning to the Oceanic’s Manifest Of Alien Passengers, it says Harris was born in “Russia, Zitomir,” which I take to be what is now called Zhitomir in Ukraine, and Beckel is said to have been born in “Russia” at a place that seems to have been spelled “Elisawathgrad,” which, using its English spelling, I take to be Elizabethgrad, also in present day Ukraine. Furthermore, if I have successfully located further parts of the Manifest, in June 1913, the Gayetsky family had $100 in cash and, while some passengers indicated that they had paid for the crossing themselves, it is stated that the fare for Harris and his family had been paid by a “brother.” This may cast doubt on the claim that Harris saved up for the crossing or mean that the “brother” in question made a significant contribution. In addition, while biographies of Stan Getz have stressed that Harris and family were going to join relatives in Philadelphia, the Manifest says they have “3 Bros” and “3 Sisters” waiting for them in New York. Of course, these siblings could have travelled the relatively short distance from Philadelphia to New York to welcome the newcomers.

By January 1920 when Harris completed his first census in America there had been some dramatic changes in his life and in the lives of his sons. Harris is now Harry Getz and he is married to Rose, whom I believe to be Rosi Boratz, who married a Harris Getz in Philadelphia in 1918. [26] By 1920, in addition to Alex and Pincus, Harry now has another son, Benjamin, who is nearly two and a half. Harry also seems to be doing well commercially, for he owns his own tailoring business. [27]

So, what has happened to Rebecca? A survivor of the hardships and, possibly, the terrors of Russia, a survivor of a flight across Europe and the grind and illnesses of London’s East End that claimed her third child, Rebecca’s reward for reaching her goldene medineh was, according to Maggin, tragically short. He claims that she died in 1917 giving birth to her fourth son, Benjamin. [28] I have been able to establish that a Benjamin Getz was born in Philadelphia on August 25, but, as yet, my own search for details of Rebecca’s death and burial have not been productive.

In 1925, Rebecca’s first son, whose birth certificate gave his name as Alexander Gaeitzky, of 140 Jubilee Street in Mile End Old Town, was married in Philadelphia. [29] He was now Al Getz, and his wife, Goldie Yampolsky, was, like himself, born to Jewish émigrés from what today is Ukraine. On February 2, 1927, Al and Goldie’s first child was born. They named him Stanley. Stanley seems to have been blessed with perfect pitch and a photographic memory. While still in his teens, he was “on the road,” playing tenor saxophone in a band led by Jack Teagarden. Spells with Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman quickly followed, and soon he was leading his own small groups.

Harris Gaietsky or Harry Getz has been the continuous thread in this narrative. When he died in 1960 aged eighty-three, his grandson Stan was a jazz musician with an international reputation and was on the threshold of producing some of the greatest music of his career or, indeed, of any tenor saxophonist’s career. Eddie Sauter had written the compositions and arrangements for a suite that would be called Focus in which Stan would be the featured soloist. When Stan began to record his solos in late July 1961, he was still grieving over the loss of his mother, Goldie, who died on July 13. The tenor saxophonist’s performance throughout Focus is one of staggering eloquence, and on the track that was named “Her” he solos with moving fragility. “Obviously a portrait of a very beautiful lady” said Dom Cerulli in the album’s original liner notes, apparently ignorant of who the “beautiful lady” was.

Alexander or Al Getz, Stan’s father, lived for another ten years and saw his son rise to near pop-star fame, gain Grammy awards, and achieve record sales almost unheard of for a jazz musician. One of the reasons for this success was that Stan’s versions of the bossa nova compositions of Antönio Carlos Jobim captured a worldwide audience. Al died on January 6, 1971. Stan was again deeply affected. Some of the recordings he made two months or so after his father’s death were released on an album titled Dynasty and have been said to represent “an emotional peak of his recorded output.” [30] Most the compositions on Dynasty were by two of Getz’s accompanists, Eddy Louiss and René Thomas, but the saxophone soloist makes one of their pieces very much a personal statement. It is titled “Ballad for My Dad”.


Late in the 1980s, when Stan Getz was still playing and touring, the renowned jazz critic and writer Richard Palmer eulogised over a career of staggering achievements:

Now into his fifth decade as a jazz star, Stan Getz seems to have no new worlds to conquer. He has refined saxophone technique and mastery to the ultimate; he has achieved a corpus of work which for both supreme consistency and wide-ranging beauty can hardly be equalled, let alone bettered; and he has created a style that is inimitable in its amalgam of lyricism, fierce power and imaginative command. [31].

Three years after this tribute was published, Stan Getz died. Those three years, despite his battling cancer, had been as musically productive as ever. His was a remarkable life. It embraced great stages and concert halls and some of jazz’s greatest moments, and part of its ancestry can be traced to the time when, for many who were fleeing oppression, London’s East End served as a staging post for a new life across the Atlantic.


  • Gartner, Lloyd P. The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870–1914, Second Edition. London: Simon Publications, 1973.
  • Gelly, Dave. Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me. San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2002.
  • Kirkpatrick, Ron. Stan Getz: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work. Bath: Zany Publications, 1992.
  • Maggin, Donald L. Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz. New York: William Morrow, 1996.
  • Palmer, Robert. Stan Getz. London: Apollo Press, 1988.
  • Sidran, Ben. There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream. New York: Nardis Books, 2012.


I am most grateful to Aileen Bulman for her research into the 1911 Census and the Oceanic’s manifests. I am also grateful to Michael O’Neill and Tom Zelmanovits of the London Federation of Synagogues for their help researching burials in the Federation’s Edmonton Cemetery and Charles Tucker, of the Federation, for his help with different aspects of East End life in the period before the First World War. In addition, I must thank Anna Haward, Heritage Officer, Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, for her assistance researching Jubilee Street and Steve Marshall for his great help with the Ellis Island details.

[1] Dave Gelly, email correspondence to author.

[2] Ben Sidran, There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, (New York: Nardis Books, 2012), 26; and Gartner, The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870–1914, Second Edition. (London: Simon Publications, 1973), 16.

[3] As we will see, Harris’s family name and Rebecca’s maiden name have been spelled and recorded in a variety of ways by different authors and compilers. Their first names also get changed: Harris loses an “r” in one text, “Rebecca” is sometimes shortened to “Becky,” which she may have preferred, or “Beckil,” which might be a mistake, and Harris himself changed his first name to “Harry” in later years. For my part, I have done my best to present the names of Harris and Rebecca, their parents and their children exactly as they appear in the texts and records I have used, and to keep my comments on the variations to a minimum.

[4] Dave Gelly, Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2002), 14.

[5] Ron Kirkpatrick, Stan Getz: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work, (Bath: Zany Publications, 1992), 5.

[6] Gelly, Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, 14.

[7] Donald L. Maggin, Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, (New York: William Morrow, 1996), 2. Author’s parentheses.

[8] Ibid. Concerning Gelly, Kirkpatrick, and Maggin’s claims about Harris and Rebecca, I have no information about the precise sources these authors have used. The chapter of Maggin’s book that deals with the couple does not have any cited source (See Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, 389). No source is cited when Gelly writes about “the Gayetskis” crossing Europe and sailing on the Lusitania, though later he does refer to a 1999 BBC Two interview, but this deals with Philadelphia (See Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, 16 and 168). Gelly goes on to indicate that some of his information about Getz’s early musical experiences comes from an unpublished interview Getz gave in about 1973 (Ibid.), but there is no indication that this is the source of his Harris and Rebecca material. In dealing with Stan Getz’s early days in New York, after the family had left Philadelphia, Kirkpatrick cites a filmed interview Getz gave at “Harvest Jazz, 1983” (Kirkpatrick, Stan Getz: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work, 5), but there is no reference or citation relating to Harris and Rebecca’s journey(s) from Russia or to their supposedly brief stay in Whitechapel. Consequently, I have not been able to check the sources these authors have used for their claims about Harris and Rebecca.

[9] Welcome to the Official 1911 Census Website, Also published at

[10] England and Wales, Marriage Registration Index, 1837–2005,

[11] Gelly, Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, 14.

[12] Maggin, Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, 2.

[13] Ibid.

[14] England and Wales, Death Registration Index, 1837–2007,

[15] Gartner, The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870–1914, 86–87.

[16] Ibid, 68–69 and 87.

[17] England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837–2008,

[18] See Gartner, The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870–1914, 68.

[19] Ibid.

[20] England and Wales, Birth Registration Index, 1837–2008,

[21] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island,

[22] Kirkpatrick, Stan Getz: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work, 5.

[23] Maggin, Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, 2.

[24] Gelly, Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me, 14.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885–1951,

[27] United States Census, 1920,

[28] Maggin, Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz, 1–2.

[29] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885–1951,

[30] Kirkpatrick, Stan Getz: An Appreciation of His Recorded Work, 25.

[31] Robert Palmer, Stan Getz, (London: Apollo Press, 1988), 74.

Author Information: 
Dr. Peter Gardner taught Maths and Science in a secondary school for three years. He then studied Philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Warwick and was a postgraduate Philosophy student at the University of Oxford. For over twenty years he was lecturer in the Philosophy of Education and resident tutor at the University of Warwick, where he also taught some jazz courses. He has presented papers to the Political Studies Association’s Annual Conference and the Royal Institute of Philosophy and has published in many education and philosophy journals. Now retired, he continues to write Philosophy and study jazz.

Published biographies of Stan Getz have presented inaccurate accounts of his family history and his ancestors’ immigration from Russia to England to America, apparently relying on recollections and anecdotes. This article gives a revised version that is based on research of archived public records.

Stan Getz, family, genealogy, immigration, England, jazz

How to cite this article:

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