We here at All About Jazz.com wish to pay a special memorial to the great tenor/alto saxophonist, Sonny Stitt. It's been 17 years since his untimely death. With over 300 recordings to his credit, Sonny Stitt has been the topic of many a jazz historian, reviewer and educator because of the vast amount of recordings the saxophonist completed in his 58 years. Unaware that he had just a little more time left, Sonny Stitt completed these final sessions of musical history in just two days on June 8th and 9th in 1982. Joyous and content with the outcome, he left for a tour of Japan but would never perform. He passed away July 22, 1982, leaving a legacy of great tenor and alto saxophone memories for us to enjoy. The emotional connotation that comes with SONNY STITT: THE LAST SESSIONS, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, is monumental since we all know there will be no more “live” sessions from Sonny.
His playing doesn’t bear any suggestion of finality as he grooves and swings through “Steamroller,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and “Keepin’ It” with the speed that many of his accompanists couldn’t keep!! He grooves and bops his way through “Jumpin’ The Blues,” and regardless of whether he’s on tenor or sax, electric or acoustic, he jams. His quintet reprises many tunes made famous by some of his comrades, including Charlie Parker’s “This Is Always,” and “Angel Eyes,” the Gene Ammons’ property. His brilliant interpretation of the ballad, “At Last,” and the exuberance on the bebop classic, “Bouncin With Bud,” are stellar examples of Stitt’s melodic drive and rhythmic lines. Bill Hardman joins him on trumpet, George Duviver on bass and Walter Davis on piano.
“The Last Sessions” features Bill Hardman on trumpet, Walter Davis on piano, Junior Mance on piano, George Duviver on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums and the great Sonny Stitt on alto and tenor saxophones. Stitt once told Howard Mandel that he “looked at each new album as another chapter in life.” Well, Sonny, your life was a great chapter and two songs you played on 'THE LAST SESSIONS' say it for all of us...“As Time Goes By,” “I’ll Be Seeing You.”