Sonny Stitt

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Stardust Review

by Scott Yanow

On this Roulette LP, Sonny Stitt became the first musician to record on the Varitone sax, an electrified saxophone that allowed him to play octaves and to manipulate his sound a bit. Unfortunately the result was that Stitt (who used the instrument on and off for the next five years) lost much of his musical individuality when playing the generic sounding horn, and his fast doubletime runs could sound a bit silly and muddled. For this album, Stitt plays a dozen songs (mostly standards), is assisted by tenor-saxophonist Illinois Jacquet on two pieces and welcomes a variety of accompanying musicians including trombonist J.J. Johnson, pianist Ellis Larkins and organist Ernie Hayes. But the net results (thanks to the Varitone) are no big deal.