Blows The Blues (Remastered) Sonny Stitt

Album info

Album-Release:
1960

HRA-Release:
04.03.2014

Label: Verve Reissues

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Jazz Blues

Artist: Sonny Stitt

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Blue Devil Blues04:28
  • 2Home Free Blues04:24
  • 3Blue Prelude03:07
  • 4Frankie And Johnny05:32
  • 5Birth Of The Blues05:57
  • 6Blues Offering04:06
  • 7Hymnal Blues06:10
  • 8Morning After Blues03:04
  • Total Runtime36:48

Info for Blows The Blues (Remastered)

Sonny Stitt recorded in an impressive variety of contexts, ranging from the octet format featured in Jimmy Giuffre's arrangements to informal sessions with such swing era prototypes as Roy Eldridge, with whom he was teamed for Only The Blues.

It was in the latter set that Sonny's superb feeling for the 12-bar blues form came most conspicuously into focus. On the present sides, Sonny again reverts to the blues, this time in an even simpler setting composed of 3 musicians who, like Sonny, are essentially products of the modern jazz scene, but have firm roots in the jazz tradition of which the blues has remained a perpetual, unquenchable guiding light.

Sonny plays alto on all tracks. Five of the eight numbers are ad lib blues with a nominal thematic framework to open and close; the others are Isham Jones' Blue Prelude, which somebody suggested on the date--Sonny had never played it before; Frankie and Johnny, probably the oldest blues theme now in general use (it orginated in the early 19th century), and the old pop song Birth of the Blues. Highlights among the originals are Home Free, a minor key blues, and Hymnal, a 'sanctified' blues based on an old hymn. Sonny is also at his earthiest and most moving in the very slow blues in G, Morning After, that closes the set.

'These are all truly classic Verve titles that you simply don't want to miss. Most importantly, the sound of these reissues is nothing short of astounding!' (Danny Kaey, Positive Feedback)

Sonny Stitt, alto saxophone
Lou Levy, piano
Leroy Vinnegar, bass
Mel Lewis, drums

Recorded in Los Angeles, California on December 21 & 22, 1959.
Produced by Norman Granz

Digitally remastered



Sonny Stitt
(tenor and alto saxophonist) was born Edward Boatner Jr. on February 2, in 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. He had a musical background; his father, Edward Boatner, was a baritone singer, composer and college music professor, his brother was a classically trained pianist, and his mother was a piano teacher. Boatner was soon adopted by another family, the Stitts, who gave him his new surname. He later began calling himself “Sonny”.

In 1943, Stitt first met Charlie Parker, and as he often later recalled, the two men found that their styles had an extraordinary similarity that was partly coincidental and not merely due to Stitt’s emulation. Stitt’s improvisations were more melodic/less dissonant than those of Parker. Stitt’s earliest recordings were made in 1945 with Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie. He had also played in some swing bands, though he mainly played in bop bands. Stitt was featured in Tiny Bradshaw’s big band in the early forties. Stitt replaced Charlie Parker in Dizzy Gillespie’s band in 1945.

Stitt played alto saxophone in Billy Eckstine’s big band alongside future bop pioneers Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons from 1945 until 1956, when he started to play tenor saxophone more frequently, in order to avoid being referred to as a Charlie Parker imitator. Later on, he played with Gene Ammons and Bud Powell. Stitt spent time in a Lexington prison between 1948–49 for selling narcotics.

Stitt, when playing tenor saxophone, seemed to break free from some of the criticism that he was imitating Charlie Parker’s style, although it appears in the instance with Ammons above that the availability of the larger instrument was a factor. Indeed, Stitt began to develop a far more distinctive sound on tenor. He played with other bop musicians Bud Powell and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, a fellow tenor with a distinctly tough tone in comparison to Stitt, in the 1950s and recorded a number of sides for Prestige Records label as well as albums for Argo, Verve and Roost. Stitt experimented with Afro-Cuban jazz in the late 1950s, and the results can be heard on his recordings for Roost and Verve, on which he teamed up with Thad Jones and Chick Corea for Latin versions of such standards as “Autumn Leaves.”

Stitt joined Miles Davis briefly in 1960, and recordings with Davis’ quintet can be found only in live settings on the tour of 1960. Concerts in Manchester and Paris are available commercially and also a number of concerts (which include sets by the earlier quintet with John Coltrane) on the record Live at Stockholm (Dragon), all of which featured Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers. However, Miles fired Stitt due to the excessive drinking habit he had developed, and replaced him with fellow tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. Stitt, later in the 1960s, paid homage to one of his main influences, Charlie Parker, on the album Stitt Plays Bird, which features Jim Hall on guitar and at Newport in 1964 with other bebop players including J.J. Johnson.

He recorded a number of memorable records with his friend and fellow saxophonist Gene Ammons, interrupted by Ammons’ own imprisonment for narcotics possession. The records recorded by these two saxophonists are regarded by many as some of both Ammons and Stitt’s best work, thus the Ammons/Stitt partnership went down in posterity as one of the best duelling partnerships in jazz, alongside Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Johnny Griffin with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. Stitt would venture into soul jazz, and he recorded with fellow tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin in 1964 on the Soul People album. Stitt also recorded with Duke Ellington alumnus Paul Gonsalves in 1963 for Impulse! on the Salt And Pepper album in 1963. Around that time he also appeared regularly at Ronnie Scott’s in London, a live 1964 encounter with Ronnie Scott, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, eventually surfaced, and another in 1966 with resident guitarist Ernest Ranglin and British tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey. Stitt was one of the first jazz musicians to experiment with an electric saxophone (the instrument was called a Varitone), as heard on the albums What’s New in 1966 and Parallel-A-Stitt in 1967.

In the 1970s, Stitt slowed his recording output slightly, and in 1972, he produced another classic, Tune Up, which was and still is regarded by many jazz critics, such as Scott Yanow, as his definitive record. Indeed, his fiery and ebullient soloing was quite reminiscent of his earlier playing. He also recorded another album with Varitone, Just The Way It Was – Live At The Left Bank in 1971 which was released in 2000.

Stitt joined the all-star group Giants of Jazz, which also featured Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Kai Winding and bassist Al McKibbon) and made albums for Atlantic Records, Concord Records and Emarcy Records. His last recordings were made in Japan. In 1982, Stitt suffered a heart attack, and he died on July 22 in Washington, D.C.

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