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Sonny Stitt - The Classic Albums Collection 1957-1963

Sonny Stitt - The Classic Albums Collection 1957-1963

Having appeared on over 100 albums as either leader or sideman, across a career spanning four decades, Sonny Stitt remains one of the best-documented musicians in all of jazz history. A master of the saxophone - primarily alto and tenor - Stitt’s tireless dedication to recording, touring and the jazz genre in general was renowned, earning him the moniker “lone wolf” from acclaimed jazz critic Dan Morgenstern. With a plethora of classic records under both his own name and alongside other greats - including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and Gene Ammons - Stitt carved out a legacy as one of the foremost players to have worked in the bebop and hard bop idioms.
After performing with a number of groups throughout the 1940s - including those of Tiny Bradshaw, Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Eckstine - Stitt broke out as a solo artist in the early 1950s, and by 1957 was highly respected as a musician and bandleader in his own right. Although known initially as an alto saxophonist, Stitt began to regularly feature on tenor by this time, in part because he had occasionally been tagged a Charlie Parker clone. It was while playing tenor that he began to develop his own distinctive sound and it is this style that can be heard on a number of the legendary recordings he made in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. His talent was rarely more apparent than on Sonny Side Up (Verve, 1957), on which he featured as co-leader alongside Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie. It was Stitt’s interplay with Rollins, who also played tenor on the album, that made the sessions as inventive and captivating as they were. Although playing the same instrument, their respective approaches to improvisation were vastly different; Stitt preferring an intense, furious tone while Rollins was more reserved and thoughtful. With a backing group of drummer Charlie Persip and brothers Ray and Tommy Bryant on piano and bass, Sonny Side Up - not be confused with Rollins’s own 1960 album of the same name - will always be remembered as one of the finest examples of Stitt’s work.
Sonny Stitt’s release schedule during this period was further graced with a host of other classic albums. These included Personal Appearance, which featured pianist Bobby Timmons, and For Musicians Only (both Verve, 1957). Recorded in a single session and renowned for extended, breathtaking solos, the latter featured an all-star line-up of some of the era’s finest players, including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, John Lewis, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Stan Levey, with Stitt back on alto saxophone for the recording. Sonny Stitt would be reunited with Brown on Sonny Stitt Sits In With The Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve, 1959), for which all concerned were widely praised for the cohesive sound produced. In 1960 Stitt took a short engagement with Miles Davis’ band for some live shows; however he was soon fired by Davis because of his, by now, excessive drinking.
In the early years of the new decade Stitt released a number of albums with tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons, who he had first met when they both served in Billy Eckstine’s band in 1945. Boss Tenors (Verve, 1961) and Boss Tenors In Orbit! (Verve, 1962) particularly featured some of the finest playing of either sax man, with Ammon’s soulful style complimenting Stitt’s bop-oriented sound beautifully. The following year he released Now! (Impulse!, 1963), which featured bassist Al Lucas, drummer Osie Johnson and future NEA Jazz Master Hank Jones on piano.
This four disc collection, containing over five hours of music from eight original, remastered LPs, collates the very best of Sonny Stitt’s extensive catalogue of albums released between 1957 and 1963. Featuring too appearances from a wide range of other jazz greats, and demonstrating Stitt’s extraordinary skill on both the alto and tenor saxophones, this compilation serve as both a perfect introduction to this master musician, and as a welcome reminder of why, some 35 years after his passing in 1982, he retains such respect and acclaim among the jazz cognoscenti.

CD 1
1 Easy To Love 4:31  
2 Easy Living 4:30  
3 Autumn In New York 2:17  
4 You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 4:27  
5 For Some Friends 4:15  
6 I Never Knew 4:02  
7 Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea 4:43  
8 East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon) 5:24  
9 Original 4:34  
10 Avalon 2:56  
11 Blues Greasy 3:20  
12 On The Sunny Side Of The Street 5:47  
13 The Eternal Triangle 14:13  
14 After Hours 12:22  
15 I Know That You Know 5:47  

CD 2
1 Be-Bop 12:49  
2 We 8:29  
3 Dark Eyes 12:11  
4 Lover Come Back To Me 9:34  
5 I Can't Give You Anything But Love 4:05  
6 Au Privave 4:00  
7 The Gypsy 3:27  
8 I'll Remember April 4:43  
9 Scrapple From The Apple 4:22  
10 Moten Swing 7:09  
11 Blues For Pres, Sweets, Ben & All The Other Funky Ones 6:05  
12 Easy Does It 5:25  

CD 3
1 Angel Eyes 3:12  
2 It All Depends On You 2:50  
3 Stormy Thursday 3:25  
4 Embraceable You 2:38  
5 It Could Happen To You 3:27  
6 But Not For Me 3:10  
7 Memories Of You 5:12  
8 I Cried For You 3:18  
9 Bright As Snow 2:47  
10 Spinning 2:30  
11 Blues Up And Down 8:51  
12 Counter Clockwise 9:42  
13 There Is No Greater Love 6:31  
14 The One Before This 7:13  
15 Autumn Leaves 6:36  

CD 4
1 Long Ago, And Far Away 6:17  
2 Walkin' 5:24  
3 Why Was I Born? 8:24  
4 John Brown's Body 7:26  
5 Bye Bye Blackbird 9:58  
6 Surfin' 4:13  
7 Lester Leaps In 6:24  
8 Estralita 3:18  
9 Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone 4:35  
10 Touchy 5:14  
11 Never ----SH! 5:08  
12 My Mother's Eyes 4:09  
13 I'm Getting Sentimental Over You 4:15

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