Sonny Stitt

Jazz sides

Reissues & Box Sets

Sonny Stitt

Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952 (Prestige)

No one's denying that saxophonist Sonny Stitt was a superb player who left his mark on the jazz vocabulary. There's always been some speculation, revived here in the cogent program notes by Chronicle contributor Harvey Pekar, as to whether Stitt developed his own style in the early years of bebop or whether he was primarily a Charlie Parker clone like so many others. Although their styles and intensity are remarkably similar, perhaps it's best left to jazz historians to analyze such technical minutia while jazz fans, 50 years after the fact, can just enjoy this music for its sheer exuberance and breathtaking flair. Recorded over a brief 2-year span during the full flowering of the bebop revolution, this 3-CD set finds Stitt, primarily on tenor sax, in a series of small group dates for the independent Prestige Records with many of the cutting-edge musicians of the day. These include stunning sessions with pianist Bud Powell, trombonist J.J. Johnson, and drummer Max Roach. Of particular interest are collaborations with saxophonist Gene Ammons, with whom Stitt continued a fruitful relationship well into the Seventies. The two lock horns on several dates here, including the original recording of their signature joust, "Blues Up and Down." The three discs are crammed with 76 sides, all culled from 78 rpm singles running three minutes or less. The performances are tight and succinct, seemingly without a wasted note. Many of these sides were jukebox singles in their day. Although not necessarily for the casual jazz listener, Stitt's Bits puts a deserving spotlight on an underappreciated jazz giant.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jay Trachtenberg
<i>The Teacher</i> by Michal Ben-Naftali
The Teacher
This prize-winning novel's tale of a student piecing together the hidden life of her teacher, a Holocaust survivor who killed herself, is haunting

Feb. 14, 2020

Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
From the social upheaval of the Sixties to the double life of an intelligence agent to the secular past of an Orthodox rabbi, splits resolved into memorable books

Dec. 20, 2019

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle