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Sonny Stitt

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  • Born: Boston, MA
  • Died: Washington D.C.
  • Years Active: 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Charlie Parker has had many admirers and his influence can be detected in numerous styles, but few have been as avid a disciple as Sonny Sitt. There was almost note-for-note imitation in several early Stitt solos, and the closeness remained until Stitt began de-emphasizing the alto in favor of the tenor, on which he artfully combined the influences of Parker and Lester Young. Stitt gradually developed his own sound and style, though he was never far from Parker on any alto solo. A wonderful blues and ballad player whose approach influenced John Coltrane, Stitt could rip through an up-tempo bebop stanza, then turn around and play a shivering, captivating ballad. He was an alto saxophonist in Tiny Bradshaw's band during the early '40s, then joined Billy Eckstine's seminal big band in 1945, playing alongside other emerging bebop stars like Gene Ammons and Dexter Gordon. Stitt later played in Dizzy Gillespie's big band and sextet. He began on tenor and baritone in 1949, and at times was in a two-tenor unit with Ammons. He recorded with Bud Powell and J.J. Johnson for Prestige in 1949, then did several albums on Prestige, Argo, and Verve in the '50s and '60s. Stitt led many combos in the '50s, and re-joined Gillespie for a short period in the late '50s. After a brief stint with Miles Davis in 1960, he reunited with Ammons and for a while was in a three-tenor lineup with James Moody. During the '60s, Stitt also recorded for Atlantic, cutting the transcendent Stitt Plays Bird, which finally addressed the Parker question in epic fashion. He continued heading bands, though he joined the Giants of Jazz in the early '70s. This group included Gillespie, Art Blakey, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk, and Al McKibbon. Stitt did more sessions in the '70s for Cobblestone, Muse, and others, among them another definitive date, Tune Up. He continued playing and recording in the early '80s, recording for Muse, Sonet, and Who's Who in Jazz. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1982.

eMusic Features

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New This Week: Cloud Nothings, Craig Finn and More

By J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief

The first HUGE new release day of 2012, so strap in and get ready for a pretty comprehensive rundown! Dave Sumner's got your jazz picks, and I've got the rest. Here we go! Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory: ALBUM OF THE DAY. Dylan Baldi grows up in a nanosecond, making a snarling rock record that hurtles forward with the speed and fury of a meteor. The sonic touchstones here are '90s emo greats like Jawbreaker, the… more »

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Plug Him In: Comedy, the Electric Saxophone, and Eddie Harris

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

There have been plenty of amusing jazz musicians, from Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller on down, but few as riotously funny as tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris. In 1975 he even put out a comedy record of on-stage chatter, The Reason Why I'm Talking S--t. The opening monologue is a masterpiece of audience alienation, in which he describes what's on the minds of the men and women at that evening's Eddie Harris concert. By the time… more »