All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

358

Sonny Stitt: Work Done

By

Sign in to view read count
Few musicians have sustained as many physical and mental shocks throughout the course of a nomadic, non-stop and frequently solitary career as Sonny Stitt. More often than not, the peripatetic saxophonist would arrive in town, call up the best local rhythm section and try to keep his spirits up for a five-night stand, finding time during the day to cut a couple of quick sides at a nearby recording studio before heading for the next town or overseas flight.

The life and substances required to fuel it took their toll, and by the mid-sixties Stitt was having as many bad days as good days. His return to form in the early 1970s is one of jazz's more inspiring stories. Far from a swan song, Work Done, recorded at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in 1976, serves as a reminder of how a virtuoso performer leaves no unfinished business.

The key to both Stitt's life and music was control, and his extraordinary discipline is on abundant display throughout this set. By 1976 Stitt had learned how to pace himself, making his statements in a couple of choruses yet doing so with head-spinning technical command, satisfying emotional expressiveness, and willful structural wholeness. As for the program, if you've ever heard Stitt play a Bb blues, skip the first track. It's too much of more of the same, with Stitt's addiction to the tonic especially pronounced. But by the second tune, "Indiana," the featured soloist is feeling it, feeding off of the crowd's enthusiasm and a surprisingly close-knit, responsive rhythm section, anchored by Ray Drummond's potent bass.

"Constellation," an "I Got Rhythm" tune pushed to the speed limit, offers up more B flats, but the alternate tonguings, rhythmic displacements, and crisp articulations make them sound fresh and inspired. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and "Stardust" both conclude with dazzling, unaccompanied cadenzas, the first played on tenor, the second on alto (a recording of "Stardust," incidentally, that probably deserves a place alongside storied ones by Armstrong, Shaw, Hampton and Desmond). The closer, "Loose Walk," is another Bb blues, but again Stitt infuses each Bb with energy and surprise for what proves to be an exhilarating finale to the set.

The audio and mix, though sub-par, are light years beyond some other currently available on-location Stitt recordings (steer clear of any Stitt session with "Ronnie Scott" or "Left Bank" in the title). And Sonny's glorious sound—so pure yet so full-throated, "embodied" and soulful—is not to be denied. Curiously, Stitt looks older and more haggard in the 1976 photos for Work Done than he does for the photos taken for Last Sessions, the 32 Jazz CD recorded days before his death in 1982—all the more evidence that in 1976 Stitt was playing through pain while renewing a commitment to a muse that was his alone. Stitt followers should take no small amount of consolation from the dedication and professional pride that led this dominating player back to the top of his game, even as a rapid, virulent cancer was about to take it away from him.


Track Listing: Barkan The Blues; Indiana; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be); Constellation; You Are The Sunshine Of My Life; Stardust; On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever); Loose Walk; Sonny Introduces The Band.

Personnel: Sonny Stitt: tenor and alto saxophones; Ed Kelly: piano; Ray Drummond: bass; Smiley Winters: drums.

Title: Work Done | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: HighNote Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Nightports" CD/LP/Track Review Nightports
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 8, 2018
Read "Notes Over Poetry" CD/LP/Track Review Notes Over Poetry
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 11, 2017
Read "Obsidian" CD/LP/Track Review Obsidian
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 3, 2018
Read "Reclamation" CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Live In Belgium" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Belgium
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "Heart Love" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Love
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 12, 2018