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New York Jazz

Sonny Stitt

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Album Review

Sonny Stitt was so closely identified with Charlie Parker on the alto that even when he played tenor, his style was of the quicker-than-lightning variety with all the notes he could pack in a phrase in his soloing. Which makes listening to him, for all but the most ardent bebop fans, an endurance contest no matter how agile he was. Here, in a 1956 session with Ray Brown and Jo and Jimmy Jones backing him, there is some tempering of the maelstrom that Stitt conjured up on every bandstand. Half the program is ballads, including "The Stars Fell on Alabama," a gorgeous "Body & Soul," and "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea." While these cuts show an uncharacteristic restraint from Stitt, the midtempo tunes, such as "Down Home Blues," "Alone Together," and "If I Had You," still reveal his insistence on streaking everything into the blue despite a rhythm section that wishes to hold the tunes within recognizable tempos. It's no problem for Stitt; he just plays twice or three times as fast. This is a good session, but like all of Stitt's records, wears thin after about six cuts.

Biography

Born: 02 February 1924 in Boston, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Charlie Parker has had many admirers and his influence can be detected in numerous styles, but few have been as avid a disciple as Sonny Sitt. There was almost note-for-note imitation in several early Stitt solos, and the closeness remained until Stitt began de-emphasizing the alto in favor of the tenor, on which he artfully combined the influences of Parker and Lester Young. Stitt gradually developed his own sound and style, though he was never far from Parker on any alto solo. A wonderful blues...
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