Sonny Stitt - Stitt Plays Bird
Sonny Stitt - alto sax
Jim Hall - guitar [click here to see more vinyl featuring Jim Hall]
John Lewis (piano), Richard Davis (bass), Connie Kay (drums)
Written by Charlie Parker (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, B2, B4), Benny Harris (A1), Jay McShann (B3)
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Atlantic
Recording: January 1963 at Atlantic Studios, New York City, by Tom Dowd
Production: Nesuhi Ertegun
Originally released in 1964
Reissued in 2017
Side A :
- Scrapple From The Apple
- My Little Suede Shoes
- Parker's Mood
- Au Privave
Side B :
- Hootie Blues
« Sonny Stitt forged his own approach to playing bebop out of the sound and style of Charlie Parker, so this tribute album was a very logical project. With fine support from guitarist Jim Hall, pianist John Lewis, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Connie Kay, Stitt performs ten Parker compositions, plus Jay McShann's "Hootie Blues"; these renditions of "Now's the Time" and "Yardbird Suite" were previously unreleased. Stitt, who mastered bebop and could play hot licks in his sleep, is in top form on such numbers as "Constellation," "Confirmation," and "Ko-Ko," making this an essential item for straight-ahead jazz fans (although the prolific altoist would record eight other albums in 1963 alone). » AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
« For those listeners who may have missed out on the LP Stitt Plays Bird ,when it was first released in 1963, now is your chance to rectify that oversight. Deliciously re-mastered by the German label Speakers Corner Records to bring out the full dynamics and sonic delight of the stereo recording, you are treated to Sonny Stitt and his be-bop cohorts run through eight Charlie Parker originals and one by Jay McShann ( in whose band Parker was first employed).
Additionally, the liner notes are by Ira Gitler ( who died on February 23, 2019, at 90) and was one of the most respected jazz writers of the post war era as well as an early believer in be-bop music. Finally the album cover is a portrait of Stitt by noted American painter Marvin Israel, which is so flawlessly reproduced it could be suitable for framing.
The musicians surrounding Stitt, are anchored by two stalwarts of the Modern Jazz Quartet, pianist John Lewis and drummer Connie Kay plus one of tastiest guitarists in jazz Jim Hall, and the big toned bassist Richard Davis.
Much has been made about the influence that Charlie Parker had on the playing of Sonny Stitt. Although there was a closeness in style, and some of Stitt’s early solo work may have had some note for note Parker comparisons, Stitt was his own man, developing his own creativity and phrasing. The opening track on Side One is “Ornithology” which is based on How High The Moon and a close listening may pick up some early Parker mannerisms. Guitarist Jim Hall has a glorious solo on this number.
“Scrapple From The Apple” uses chord changes from Honeysuckle Rose with Hall and Stitt covering the line on both the introduction and the out chorus to the number. In between Stitt is both agile and aglow throughout his solo space.
“Parker’s Mood” is a slow blues on which Stitt is expressive and sure-footed. Pianist John Lewis, who had been involved with several prior recordings of the number including Parker’s original outing, offers ideal rapport that is both empathetic and lyrical.
If you listen closely as Side Two opens with “Ko-Ko” the changes of Ray Noble’s Cherokee are on full display. Stitt takes the number at full gallop and he does not gives up the reins throughout the piece.
Another all Stitt offering is “Confirmation” which has become a bebop standard. Filled with an array of complex and rapid chord changes, this composition is not for the faint of heart. Stitt never backed away from a challenge and he tackled the opportunity with his assertive style and cool-headed technical facility.
When Parker was in Jay McShann’s band in the early 1940s, they recorded one of McShannn’s compositions “Hootie Blues”. Stitt’s interpretation is of the low-down blues variety and he sets the stage accordingly. Pianist Lewis, guitarist Hall, and bassist Davis are moved to add to the suggestive slow-burn attractiveness of the number.
Be-bop is spoken here. » Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition, May 31, 2019
It is widely known that Sonny Stitt didn’t want to be taken for Charlie 'Bird' Parker and changed from playing the alto to the tenor saxophone. Although false rumours pop up every now and then, the truth is that at the beginning of the 1940s Stitt independently developed the same be-bop licks as Parker without ever having heard him.
For "Stitt Plays Bird" Sonny had to unearth his old instrument and insert a new mouthpiece because Atlantic Records and their entrepreneurial president Ahmet Ertegun hoped for big sales figures. Which actually proved true.
One half of the modern jazz quartet provided the melodic and rhythmic basis for improvisations on eight 'hits' by Charlie Parker and one composition by his first employer Jay McShann. Added to this are the subtle, sensitive scatterings from Jim Hall and the emphatic beat from Richard Davis, both of which lend delicacy and pulse to the numbers. It’s hard to recommend a special track, but "Scrapple From The Apple" is just awesome! All the numbers are based on standards – just which they are can be found in the informative liner notes by the be-bop expert Ira Gitler. Atlantic’s logo “Full Dynamic Frequency Spectrum” is no longer a swindle in this new pressing and at last one can enjoy all nine titles in all their sonic glory.
Allmusic : 4.3 / 5 , Discogs : Rate Your Music :