Sonny Stitt

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Now! Review

by Dave Nathan

Issued on the Impulse! label, Now! was one of the albums Sonny Stitt made in the 1960s (this one in 1963) that was part of his transition from the alto to the tenor sax, a transition necessary to shuck off the mantle that he was little more than a Charlie Parker clone. While Parker's influence remained a basic part of Stitt's articulation and phrasing, he eventually became a foremost practitioner based on his own significant jazz accomplishments. This album is virtually alto free, with the small sax used on just one tune, "Never-Sh!" Also, the almost frenetic, egoist display of high-speed fingering and dazzling work with chord changes that characterized some of Stitt's early work is virtually absent from this session. The playlist lets Stitt bring to the table his capacity to be at ease in a variety of scenarios, from his bouncy, boppish "Surfin'" to an imaginative improvisation on "Estralita" (an otherwise unimaginative piece of fluff), to a lovely ballad interpretation of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." Stitt is joined by the first-rate rhythm section of Hank Jones, Al Lucas, and Osie Johnson. The synergy of this group is apparent from the outset and remains throughout the session. Jones gets plenty of time to display his unmatched prowess on the piano on such tunes as "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone." For some reason, Johnson's drums are a bit chunky on some cuts, which is out of character for him, but there is little harm done. This album is a significant entry in the large Sonny Stitt discography.

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