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  • Edward Boatner Stitt
  • Le loup solitaire
  • Sonny
  • Stitt Sonny

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Sonny Stitt (1924)

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  Summary  

Edward "Sonny" Stitt (February 2, 1924, Boston, Massachusetts – July 22, 1982, Washington, D.C.) was an American jazz saxophonist of the bebop/hard bop idiom. He was also one of the best-documented saxophonists of his generation, recording over 100 albums in his lifetime. He was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" by jazz critic Dan Morgenstern in tribute to his relentless touring and his devotion to jazz. He is considered the greatest disciple of Charlie Parker. Although his playing was at first heavily inspired by Charlie Parker and Lester Young, Stitt eventually developed his own style, one which influenced John Coltrane. Stitt was especially effective with blues and with ballad pieces such as "Skylark".

  Biography  

 Early life
Stitt was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. Stitt had a musical background; his father was a college music professor, his brother was a classically trained pianist, and his mother was a piano teacher.

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 experienced playing in some swing bands, though he mainly played in bop bands. Stitt 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 emulator. Later on, he notably 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 on the record Live at Stockholm , 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 , as heard on the albums What's New in 1966 and Parallel-A-Stitt in 1967.

 Later life
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.

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  Played movies  

  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
Birdlike 07:40 1975
It Might as Well Be Spring 06:03 1975
Blues March 07:29 1975
In Walked Sonny 11:06 1975
Ronnie's a Dynamite Lady 08:16 1975
I Can't Get Started 04:43 1975
Sweet and Lovely 07:11 1974
The Champ 08:48 1974
The Midgets 05:36 1974
Confirmation 04:36 1966
Koko 04:54 1966
Parker's Mood 04:21 1966
My Little Suede Shoes 03:06 1966
Ornithology 03:41 1966
Constellation 03:19 1966
Hootie Blues 06:24 1966
Medley: I Can't Get Started / The Masquerade Is Over 11:16 03/1965
C 10:00 03/1965
Sonny's Book 08:57 03/1965
Soul People 09:59 03/1965
Island Shout 04:30 1964
Blue Blood Ritual 06:10 1964
Baion Baby 04:40 1964
Slave Maidens 07:34 1964
Never ---SH! 05:07 1963
Hairy 05:56 1963
Perdido 12:40 1963
Touchy 05:13 1963
Love Nest 06:17 1963
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone 04:34 1963
Soul Shack 07:14 1963
Lord of the Flies 02:28 1963
Estralita 03:17 1963
Sunday 07:55 1963
S'posin 06:21 1963
Lester Leaps In 06:23 1963
Salt and Pepper 07:52 1963
Surfin' 04:12 1963
My Mother's Eyes 04:08 1963
For You 06:55 1963
John Brown's Body 07:22 1962
Why Was I Born? 08:20 1962
Walkin' 05:21 1962
Long Ago 06:17 1962
Look for the Silver Lining 04:30 1960
I'll Tell You Later 04:24 1960
How High the Moon 04:48 1960
Reed and a Half 03:28 1960
Lover Man 03:52 1960
A Minor Sax 04:08 1960
I Can't Give You Anything But Love 04:05 1959
Blues for Pres, Sweets, Ben and All the Other Funky Ones 06:04 1959
Moten Swing 07:09 1959
Scrapple from the Apple 04:20 1959
I'll Remember April 04:41 1959
The Gypsy 03:25 1959
Au Privave 03:59 1959
I Never Knew 04:27 1957
Blues for Bags 10:39 1957
For Some Friends 04:44 1957
B.W. Blues 11:35 1957
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To 04:52 1957
Cleveland Blues 12:02 1957
Autumn in New York 02:20 1957
The String 10:01 1957
Easy Living 04:49 1957
Avalon 02:55 1957
You'd Be So Easy to Love 04:45 1957
Original? 04:33 1957
East of the Sun 05:30 1957
I Remember You 03:54 1957
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 05:14 1957
I Didn't Know What Time It Was 03:31 1957
Sonny's Tune 05:32 1956
Down Home Blues 05:13 1956
Twelfth Street Rag 03:34 1956
Alone Together 04:54 1956
If I Had You 06:19 1956
I Know That You Know 04:29 1956
Norman's Blues 02:43 1956
Body & Soul 04:31 1956
Stars Fell on Alabama 04:11 1956

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Sonny Stitt", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.