Absolute Distribution, a Spanish consortium of labels, has done it again, following up last year's welcome single-disc reissue (at least outside the U.S.) of Stitt's 1970s Cobblestone sessions, Tune-Up! + Constellation, with two 1959 West Coast dates for Verve featuring Stitt on alto with a crack California rhythm section. Even though a first-time reissue, the disc is scarce domestically, but the musical content and production values make it well worth the search. A listener familiar with Stitt's tenor duel with Sonny Rollins on The Eternal Triangle" (Sonny Side Up, Verve 1957) might question the back-cover blurb proclaiming alto as Stitt's ...read more
You can't do no more than has already been done. Remember a man named Art Tatum; now, who can play any more than that? ...You ain't supposed to play over people's heads. You're trying to give a message to people, and make it as simple as possible for the average man."
The quote is by a paradoxical reactionary who, like Tatum, could improvise on a tune and make you think you'd heard it. Only after 20-30 more listenings did it become apparent you hadn't heard anything yet. Sonny Stitt was not only a consummate master of ...read more
Sonny Stitt Quadromania: One O'Clock Jump Membran Records 2006
Regarded by many musicians as the prototypal, or most perfect," saxophonist, Sonny Stitt recorded some 150 sessions under his own name. These four discs in German company Membran's Quadromania series will, with the possible exception of some recorded tenor battles 1950-52 under Gene Ammons' name, take care of most listeners' needs from late 1946 to early 1954. There are close to four hours of music with Stitt in the company of numerous founding fathers of modern jazz, or bebop: Bud Powell, Kenny Dorham, J. J. ...read more
Are ideas floating out there to be had by anyone? Or do they emanate exclusively from specific individuals? And how do they apply to the creation and development of bebop? Sonny Stitt is at the heart of this conundrum. As an alto saxophonist, he always fell under the shadow of Charlie Parker and was often accused of being a Bird- clone. Yet evidence suggests he was developing his own early bebop style concurrent with Parker, before he ever heard Bird. Then there's also the dismissal of his tenor sax playing as just cloning Bird on tenor. But a more careful ...read more
Sonny Stitt Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952 Prestige 2006
Presented in chronological order, saxophonist Sonny Stitt's Prestige recordings, packaged here as a three-CD box set, reveal the pure tenor tone and fluid technique that Stitt always brought to a session. Most of the selections are from 1950, and many feature fellow saxophonist Gene Ammons as Stitt's musical partner.
The set comes with an informative essay by Harvey Pekar that invites questions as to why Stitt (1924-1982) never got the credit he was due as a pioneer of bebop and ...read more
Sonny StittStitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952Prestige2006 There are two stories detractors tell about saxophonist Sonny Stitt (1924-82). Actually, his detractors tell many stories, but these two are chiefly musical. The first says that Stitt's musical inventiveness amounted to no more than being a reasonably good Charlie Parker clone when he began playing alto in the mid-1940s. The second says that Stitt frittered away his talent over the subsequent decades, taking dates and gigs indiscriminately without attending adequately to his musical development.Stitt is nevertheless regarded by many, maybe even ...read more
"Genius" is a misunderstood, overused term. In music there have been only a few geniuses--visionaries who have tapped into the original, vital stream that we might consider musical consciousness and changed it--Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Armstrong, Parker, Coltrane. Sonny Stitt was not one of the geniuses, nor one of the innovators. Rather, he took the complex language of Charlie Parker and created a syntax and rhetoric that the rest of us could understand and even employ. The 2003 reissue of New York Jazz (Verve, 1956), one of an estimated 150 sessions recorded under the saxophonist's name, appears to have passed beneath ...read more