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Sonny Stitt: Just the Way It Was: Live at the Left Bank (2000)

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Sonny Stitt: Just the Way It Was: Live at the Left Bank No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

To inaugurate his latest musical milestone—the starting of Label M—one of jazz’s most underrated production legends, Joel Dorn, has taken a set by his musical counterpart, the electrifying saxophonist Sonny Stitt, from the vaults of the Left Bank Jazz Society and put it back on vinyl (er- plastic). In doing so, he helps sustain the Society’s mission of keeping a jazzy light in the window for new and future generations.

From a sobbing rendition of "Cry Me a River," recognizable from the moment Stitt digs in, to the last hot squeals of "Blues Up and Down," this album is, as Dorn himself puts it "a motherf---er." Having taken Eddie Harris’ amplified cue, Stitt plugs in and lets loose with a tight and towering trio that also included organist Don Patterson and drummer Billy James. "The Shadow of Your Smile" smirks with swing and "Samba de Orpheus" clicks along with sweet syncopation. "Who Can I Turn To?" puts the question across gently but with a full, rich and blues-ily clipped sound which would convince even without the amps. "John Brown’s Body" mixes folk song with Dixieland pacing in a ten-minute pep-rally which just wows the crowd.

However, the trio’s sound is so big, in fact, that the thunderous applause is often lost in the changes. And despite being captured on a home recording device (we’re talking 1971 here, folks!), the sound and separation are impressively crisp and clear. They retain that homey, diamond-scratched sound of classic jazz. But, then, that was the way it was.

Track Listing: 1. Deuces Wild 2. Samba De Orpheus 3. Who Can I Turn To? 4. Cry Me A River 5. John Brown's Body 6. The Shadow Of Your Smile 7. Blues Up And Down

Record Label: Label M

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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