Sonny Stitt, who was a master saxophonist on alto, tenor and in his early days, baritone….was one of the most misunderstood musicians in the Jazz spectrum. Throughout his long career he was called an imitator and a copier of Charlie Parker on alto and Lester Young on tenor……he stopped playing the baritone in he early 50’s (he found it tiresome to lug the big horn around from gig to gig) but had he continued somebody would have called him a copier of Serge Chaloff or Gerry Mulligan. Poor Stitt never copied anybody. He grew up with the same influences as Parker and was musically stimulated by many of the same musicians as Bird so natually there were some superficial similarities in their concepts but Stitt was his own man. When he began playing the larger tenor in the late 40’s, Lester Young was an influence to be sure but even the most tin-eared critic would never have confused Stitt and Lester. Sonny developed strong personalities on both horns and the few recordings he made on the big baritone showed once again an individual concept beholden to no one.
And here is a rare recording that has never been re-issued domestically, called “The Hard Swing” was done in Los Angeles in 1959 with a band that he had picked up and worked a week with at a club in Watts. Sonny carries the ball on most tunes leaving very little space to his worthy rhythm section. We’ll hear him on alto for the the first seven tunes then on tenor for the final four. Stitt is backed by the obscure and rarely recorded pianist Amos Trice. George Morrow, who had just left Max Roach’s band to settle in L.A. is on bass and the very talented drummer Lenny McBrowne keeps the fires burning. Stitt is in inspired form on this date and the ideas pour out of his horns with fiery intensity…..”The Hard Swing” indeed!!!! (by Gavin Walker)
Lennie McBrowne (drums)
George Morrow (bass)
Sonny Stitt (saxophone)
Amos Trice (piano)
01. I Got Rhythm (Gershwin) 3.12
02. What’s New (Haggart/Burke) 3.45
03. Subito (Stitt) 4.01
04. If I Had You (Campbell/Connelly/Shapiro) 4.11
05. I’ll Remember April (Raye/DePaul/Johnston) 4.40
06. Blues For Lester (Stitt) 4.26
07. After You’ve Gone (Creamer/Layton) 3.50
08. Street Of Dreams (Lewis/Young) 2.43
09. The Way You Look Tonight (Fields/Kern) 5.06
10. Presto (Stitt) 3.30
11. Tune Up (Stitt) 4.05
GRP has cobbled together a set of performances from labels it now has under its umbrella, such as Impulse and Cadet, as well as from albums released under its own name. There’s no intent here to put together a survey of the development of the tenor saxophone. Rather, this album is an unabashed effort to attract those who celebrate good tenor sax playing in general, and ballad sax in particular — and it works. If there were a hall of fame for tenor sax players, all the performers present on this disc would have been inaugural inductees. Coleman Hawkins, the first true tenor sax improviser, is represented with “Solitude” and “Mood Indigo” from the memorable recording he made with Duke Ellington; an added treat on “Solitude” is the fine violin playing of Ray Nance. John Coltrane’s inimitable ballad style is put on display with “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “It’s Easy to Remember,” an effort by the Impulse label to make Coltrane more “popular” with jazz fans. The playing of the tenor saxophone’s psalm, “Body and Soul,” is awarded to Paul Gonsalves, who follows the improvisational path that Hawkins took on his 1939 recording. Ben Webster, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, and the soul-laden horn of Stanley Turrentine are also present.
Turrentine’s rendition of “Deep Purple” is a highlight of the album, as is Jacquet’s languid rendering of “You’re My Thrill.” A priceless set of performances by major practitioners of the tenor saxophone. Heartily recommended. (by Dave Nathan)
If you love tenor sax and music from the ’40s and ’50s and prefer melody, this is the CD for you.
It´s time to discover all these great jazz musicins from the past … timeless music !
01. Ben Webster: Stardust (Carmichael/Parish) 2.27
02. Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins: Solitude (DeLange/Ellington /Mills) 5.54
03. John Coltrane: You Don’t Know What Love Is (DePaul/Raye) 5.15
04. Paul Gonsalves: Body And Soul (Eyton/Green/Heyman/Sour) 5.27
05. Sonny Stitt: I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (Bassman/Washington) 4.18
06. Duke Ellington: Single Petal Of A Rose (Webster) 3.21
07. Stanley Turrentine: Deep Purple (DeRose/Parish) 4.51
08. Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins: Mood Indigo (Bigard/Ellington/Mills) 5.58
09. John Coltrane: It’s Easy to Remember (Hart/Rodgers) 2.48
10. Illinois Jacquet: You’re My Thrill (Gorney/Lane/Washington) 3.50
11. Ben Webster: Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg) 4.45
12. James Moody: Don’t Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) 4.31