Sonny Stitt is the other diamond in the deuce that Label M is releasing to introduce its brave new label. Another tenor sax powerhouse, Stan Getz, also is on the front line of releases. Each with his own distinctive sound, Stitt and Getz both knew how to command the attention of an audience in his own way. Getz did it through pleas and songs and unexpected accents and a comforting tone. Stitt did it through a groove and straightforward aggressive improvisation that raised the level of fun among his listeners.
On Just The Way It Was , Stitt shrewdly utilizes an irresistible force in capturing the attention of his East Coast audience: the B-3 organ. Performing tunes that were fairly popular in the early 1970's when the concert was recorded, Stitt knew his audience, which was animated by the jazz organists of the time who went through the circuit. Don Patterson and his drummer Billy James feed Stitt the energy to respond to his ideas and to elevate the performance.
The discovery of Stitt's never-before-released performance at the Famous Theater in Baltimore is startling enough. Yet, there's also the discovery of Stitt's mastery of the electric saxophone, which Eddie Harris popularized. In fact, Stitt was the first to record on the electric saxophone, and he brings along his experimentations before an appreciative audience as the group locks in and becomes one in spirit with the listeners. It would have been a great performance to witness.
The rediscovery of Stitt's originality and imagination is not the result of accident. Producer Joel Dorn says that 32 Jazz intended to raise awareness primarily of 4 artists when he worked there: Pat Martino, Woody Shaw, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sonny Stitt. Working with Stitt's widow-in the same manner that he developed with Getz' family in producing My Foolish Heart Dorn has accessed priceless photographs of Stitt's personal life and documented the performance at the Famous Theater both aurally and visually.
At a time when it's incorrectly assumed that some of the most legendary jazz innovators have nothing more to be released, it's refreshing to hear a new Stitt recording once again. And to re-evaluate his talent and influence from a new perspective.
Deuces Wild, Samba de Orpheus, Who Can I Turn To?, Cry Me A River, John Brown's Body, The Shadow Of Your Smile, Blues Up And Down
Sonny Stitt, tenor sax; Don Patterson, B-3 organ; Billy James, drums
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