Sonny Stitt

Endgame Brilliance: Constellation & Tune-Up

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Although the "endgame" part of this CD's title is not quite accurate (the sets from 1972 were made a decade before Sonny Stitt's passing), the "brilliance" definitely fits. Two of the prolific saxophonist's most exciting sessions ever were his Muse albums, Constellation and Tune-Up. This essential single-CD reissues the complete contents of both dates. Strangely enough, Constellation is listed in this set as having been recorded June 27, 1971 (it is actually from 1972), and thus cut earlier, so it takes up the first (rather than the second) half of this CD. On both dates, Stitt (doubling on tenor and alto) is joined by the superb bop pianist Barry Harris and bassist Sam Jones, with either Roy Brooks or Alan Dawson on drums. Stitt, who recorded many quartet sets through the years, was very inspired on both of these occasions. His renditions of "Constellation," "Webb City," "Just Friends," and "Groovin' High" in particular are quite memorable. The high point is a nine-and-a-half-minute version of "I Got Rhythm" that features the classic saxophonist first taking a long solo on tenor and then following it up with an equally stunning flight on alto. A master of the bebop vocabulary, the competitive Sonny Stitt would have deserved fame if he had only recorded these two sessions and not bothered with the other 150 albums he led. This CD is essential for all bebop collections..

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