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Just In Case You Forgot How Bad He Really Was

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Album Review

Although Joel Dorn's 32 Jazz label mostly concentrates on repackaging reissues from the Muse catalog, there have been some important discoveries. This 1997 CD has a previously unreleased Sonny Stitt club appearance that took place in San Francisco's Keystone Korner in September 1981. It is a special all-star concert in which Stitt splits his time between tenor and alto and is joined by pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Herbie Lewis, drummer Billy Higgins, and (on a few numbers) vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Richie Cole, and John Handy on alto and tenor. Stitt, a master of the bebop vocabulary, was not an innovator, but he was a fiery competitor who could blow most musicians off the stand when he chose to. In this case, he had a lot of respect for Cole and Handy, but still played at his best, just in case. The CD is mostly a showcase for the leader, who is well featured on the ad lib "Dig Dr. Woody," "Everything Happens to Me," and "Laura." Other than a five-song ballad medley that features each of the saxophonists plus Walton and Hutcherson, not that much is heard from Handy, while Cole (who gets in a few good licks) is generally overshadowed by Stitt. Other highlights include lengthy renditions of "Lover Man" and "Wee." Sonny Stitt recorded scores and scores of bop-oriented sessions throughout his productive career, but his fans will still be happy that 32 Jazz has added such a strong date to his discography. Recommended.


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 Stitt. 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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