Sonny Stitt

Verve Jazz Masters 50

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Though Sonny Stitt recorded a lot, there are large gaps of material that have yet to be adequately documented on CD, particularly what he recorded for Verve. Thus, the Verve Jazz Masters series rises again to the occasion, selecting from a dozen different Verve sources, including collaborative albums with Gene Ammons and Oscar Peterson, and guest shots on records by Dizzy Gillespie and the so-called Modern Jazz Sextet. From this vantage point of his career, the old line about Stitt being a clone of Charlie Parker doesn't hold water, for despite an occasional Bird-like flurry, Stitt had his own harmonic ideas and somewhat mellower tone on alto, and an even more individual majestic concept on tenor. The CD captures him in a quintessentially Verve series of diverse settings, with straight-ahead quartets, sextets, a lush Ralph Burns orchestra session, an off-center Jimmy Giuffre arrangement of "Laura," and mano-a-mano summit meetings, the most stimulating being a cooking, ten-minute jam with Peterson and Roy Eldridge ("The String"). Sonny even duels with himself -- on alto and tenor -- on "Sonny's Tune." All told, an excellent introduction to Stitt in his prime.

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