Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Getz, Robert W.

Getz, Robert W., pianist, composer, author; b.  Scranton, PA, 17 October 1955. Shortly afterwards, his father Robert H. Getz (b. 1930) and mother (born Joan Evans, 1934 - 1981) moved to Philadelphia, where the family (David, b. 1958; Jeffrey, b. 1963; Pamela, b. 1965) remained.

He began writing and making experimental music tapes as a teenager. He attended the open classroom Parkway Program from 1971-1973, where he gave his first public performances. Self-taught on piano and saxophone, he presented largely improvised performances, as a solo artist and with groups, throughout the 1970s. One of these, taped for broadcast by PBS affiliate WHYY-TV, aired in 1974. Brown University presented him playing solo piano, saxophone and clarinet in 1977.

The 1980s and 90s saw him concentrate on his freelance writing, mostly about music and popular culture. At the same time, he also began to host radio programs on local college and community stations, playing an eclectic mix of styles that reflected his own wide-ranging tastes, with a special emphasis on those gray areas where genres overlapped and the newly emerging avant rock began to mix with avant jazz . His passion for writing and collecting resulted in the publication of two books on toy collecting, published by Schiffer Books in 1998 and 2001.

The dawn of a new century and his marriage in 2001 to Sheva Golkow set the stage for a renewed commitment to recording and performing. In 2001, he established Idyll Hands Recordings as an outlet for his musical p1rojects, usually consisting of performances improvised live in the studio. In 2002, he appeared at New Yorks Knitting Factory (a performance later released on disc), participated in the Sound/Shift project in Baltimore (a series of 12-hour improvisations with continuously changing personnel), world premiered an elegy for the World Trade Center disaster entitled American Ecstasy (For Unprepared Piano) at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and recorded a collection of duets with saxophonist Elliott Levin. 2003 saw the creation of two works intended to celebrate 70th anniversaries: Planetaria, a large-scale work written to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Philadelphias Fels Planetarium, and Recital (for Yoko Ono), a series of improvised piano performances that take place over five continuous evenings, in celebration of the conceptual artists 70th birthday. Future plans call for recordings with a piano trio, an electric group, and a collaboration with guitarist Phil Carter.

Wooden Box: Piano Improvisations Vol. 1 (2001); Live At The Knitting Factory: Knitting/Unknit (2002); Robert W. Getz/Elliott Levin Duo: Sassafras Hello (2003); Pianospeak: Piano Improvisations Vol. 2 (2003).

Unrecorded Compositions:
American Ecstasy (For Unprepared Piano) (2002); Planetaria: Or Music For Four Chambers (2003); Recital (for Yoko Ono) (2003).

Contact information:

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