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Memorial Album

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Album Review

This out-of-print LP contains several formerly rare sessions featuring the talented bop altoist Sonny Criss. The first five numbers (which were only previously available on the collector's label Jazz Showcase) were privately recorded and feature a sextet that Billy Eckstine was using for his backup band at the time. Criss teams up with the high-note trumpeter Al Killian and tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray and already sounds quite distinctive on the transitional swing-to-bop performances. Also on this LP is a 1950 vocal by Damita Jo on "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" that has some prominent Criss, a 1952 quartet rendition of "Strike Up the Band" and five songs that comprised a previously unheard demonstration record of Criss' quartet (with pianist Hampton Hawes) in 1965. This album is quite a collector's item and recommended to bop collectors lucky enough to run across it.


Born: 23 October 1927 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Alto saxophonist William "Sonny" Criss was an anomaly of the jazz musicians who came up during the bebop era. Criss moved to Los Angeles from Memphis at the age of 15, and at 19 played in Howard McGhee's band with Charlie Parker and Teddy Edwards. As was the norm for every alto player, Parker exerted a huge influence on Criss' playing. His beefy, earthy tone can be heard on a number of Savoy sessions beginning the next year. Criss drifted, playing in jazz and R&B groups, including those led by Johnny...
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Memorial Album, Sonny Criss
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