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Sonny Stitt: Personal Appearance (2004)

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Sonny Stitt: Personal Appearance How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Few artists recorded as prolifically as Sonny Stitt; over the course over 100+ albums, he seemed to play with anybody willing to pick up an instrument and join him in the studio. Inevitably, there was a lot of mediocre material released, and it can be a little tricky finding Stitt's best stuff.

Personal Appearance is one of the better ones, an outing which finds the saxophonist playing in a Parker-influenced style over a selection of bebop favorites like "Easy To Love" and "Autumn In New York." Stitt's most famous and highly regarded recordings are those in which he is paired with another horn (most notably Gene Ammons or Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis), yet as the sole lead instrument he proves that he has more than enough ideas to hold his own and doesn't require the interplay the extra horn provides.

On this relatively early date from 1957, Stitt shows an uncanny ability to run changes and stitch together solos that venture into unexpected corners, playing dizzying series of notes without sounding showy. He has clearly mastered the vocabulary of the bebop solo and he displays the same isosceles passages Bird favored, yet tinged with a bit of soulfulness that the more famous altoist never quite had. In fact, Stitt handles tricky chord progressions so effortlessly that the token blues (one wittily titled "Original?") don't challenge him enough and come off sounding pat. The rhythm section does what good sidemen do: provide sturdy backing and play a respectable solo when given the opportunity.

Later on Stitt joined Prestige in a successful partnership as an artist who wanted to record every chance he got found a label that was eager to saturate the market with soul jazz. Before he headed down that road, though, he recorded this fine album.

Track Listing: 1. Easy To Love 2. Easy Living 3. Autumn In New York 4. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 5. For Some Friends 6. I Never Knew 7. Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 8. East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) 9. Original? 10. Avalon 11. Blues Greasy.

Personnel: Sonny Stitt - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons - piano; Edgar Willis - bass; Kenny Dennis - drums.

Record Label: Verve Music Group

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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