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Sonny Stitt. Why didn´t he become as famous as Dexter?

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A couple of videos come to mind. The first is the Bill Cosby one where he talks about Stitt coming on stage while Bill was sitting in on the drums (after having a few lessons). Stitt calls for the band to play Cherokee and Cosby loses it immediately, with Max Roach tapping his shoulder to cue him on getting off the stage. Cosby makes it funny, but it comes across that indeed Stitt is all business. 

The other is that live Charlie Parker tribute with Howard McGhee. McGhee is hopping around during Stitt's solo and at about 5:26 appears to catch Stitt's ire. Looks like Stitt tells him to "move" and then an additional command at around 5:40. You can see McGhee's demeanor isn't quite the same after that exchange. More words toward McGhee at 7:20. At 20:20 Stitt gets a short interview, and maybe he's had a few but it seems the host cuts that interview a little short...

 

Then there's this audio only of a Dex/Stitt session with I think Don Patterson on B3. Most of yall have probably heard this? 

 

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That Jazz 635 clip ^

Howard McGhee is buzzing (ha) until Sonny shuts him up.

I have seen clips from that gig on Youtube. One tune (can't pinpoint it off the top of my head) you see J J Johnson soloing for what looks like a little too long for Sonny's liking. Sonny looks at JJ and then down at his horn, as if to say "my turn now".

 

Edited by rdavenport

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5 minutes ago, rdavenport said:

That Jazz 635 clip ^

Howard McGhee is buzzing (ha) until Sonny shuts him up.

I have seen clips from that gig on Youtube. One tune (can't pinpoint it off the top of my head) you see J J Johnson soloing for what looks like a little too long for Sonny's liking. Sonny looks at JJ and then down at his horn, as if to say "my turn now".

 

He's comes across like an on-court Jordan. All biz and tolerating no nonsense, with almost everything carrying the edge of competition. 

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8 minutes ago, Dub Modal said:

He's comes across like an on-court Jordan. All biz and tolerating no nonsense, with almost everything carrying the edge of competition. 

Like Jordan, this was the way he lived. Not just played, lived.

Unfortunately, Sonny Stitt never got a shoe deal or a Hanes gig. So maybe it took a little less to get him to bear his fangs. :)

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1 hour ago, Dub Modal said:

Then there's this audio only of a Dex/Stitt session with I think Don Patterson on B3. Most of yall have probably heard this? 

 

That's "Lady Be Good" from the Dexter Gordon "The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions" box set. That's supposedly the only releasable track from that session. According to Cuscuna, as the session went on, the level of inebriation went up to the point where it was finally stopped.

I got this from another website...

'...Everyone was a little juiced and getting more so as the date went on. A nervous Alfred Lion was getting more and more stressed by the loose approach of Stitt and his working band. Dexter was there to play on three tunes, but after the first one, everything went down hill fast. Dex remembered, "Alfred was a wreck. When Sonny started playing "Bye Bye Blackbird," I knew that was it. Alfred jumped up, yelling 'who needs another version of this? What is he doing?' I was laughing too hard to say anything." Session over...'
 

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There are musicians who have that competitive urge to better the others on the bandstand. Stitt was certainly in that camp, often to the point of being cruel. Though I wonder if he took that same approach when playing with those he viewed as peers who he respected? 

But there are other jazz musicians who, when playing with those at somewhat lower skill levels choose to be supportive and try to provide some help to give cues and suggestions. 

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1 hour ago, Dub Modal said:

The other is that live Charlie Parker tribute with Howard McGhee. McGhee is hopping around during Stitt's solo and at about 5:26 appears to catch Stitt's ire. Looks like Stitt tells him to "move" and then an additional command at around 5:40. You can see McGhee's demeanor isn't quite the same after that exchange. More words toward McGhee at 7:20. At 20:20 Stitt gets a short interview, and maybe he's had a few but it seems the host cuts that interview a little short...

 

This is a great video. Thank you for sharing it.

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20 minutes ago, bresna said:

That's "Lady Be Good" from the Dexter Gordon "The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions" box set. That's supposedly the only releasable track from that session. According to Cuscuna, as the session went on, the level of inebriation went up to the point where it was finally stopped.

I got this from another website...

'...Everyone was a little juiced and getting more so as the date went on. A nervous Alfred Lion was getting more and more stressed by the loose approach of Stitt and his working band. Dexter was there to play on three tunes, but after the first one, everything went down hill fast. Dex remembered, "Alfred was a wreck. When Sonny started playing "Bye Bye Blackbird," I knew that was it. Alfred jumped up, yelling 'who needs another version of this? What is he doing?' I was laughing too hard to say anything." Session over...'
 

Wow. Who was in Stitt’s working band at that point? 

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2 minutes ago, Dub Modal said:

Wow. Who was in Stitt’s working band at that point? 

Paul Weeden (g), Don Patterson (org), Billy James (d)

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10 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

This is a great video. Thank you for sharing it.

:tup

The interactions between these guys is fun to watch. At the 8ish minute mark McGhee skips over Stitt while JJ is soloing and starts snapping and bouncing again, and looks back at Stitt and seems to give a little business back to him. Classic stuff. 

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We talked about it in this thread:

 

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3 minutes ago, bresna said:

We talked about it in this thread:

 

Damn. That sucked for Weeden and co. 

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29 minutes ago, Peter Friedman said:

There are musicians who have that competitive urge to better the others on the bandstand. Stitt was certainly in that camp, often to the point of being cruel. Though I wonder if he took that same approach when playing with those he viewed as peers who he respected? 

On the DJ Lounge record, there's one cut where Stitt & Board are trading fours, and Board plays one thing with just a little extra edge, just a little, and Stitt plays back at him, like, are you SURE about that? and then it's, like, Board got it and went back in the house and it was back to everybody making nice again, which is just fine, because it was...nice!

This is a different world today...the old guys all had fangs to bare when/if needed. Don't let the niceness fool you, especially on the bandstand, especially if they think you're there to prove something. Because oh yeah, go ahead, prove it, but be ready to REALLY prove it, because this shit gets deep. ok?

There's that old saying, don't mistake my kindness for weakness.

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13 minutes ago, JSngry said:

On the DJ Lounge record, there's one cut where Stitt & Board are trading fours, and Board plays one thing with just a little extra edge, just a little, and Stitt plays back at him, like, are you SURE about that? and then it's, like, Board got it and went back in the house and it was back to everybody making nice again, which is just fine, because it was...nice!

This is a different world today...the old guys all had fangs to bare when/if needed. Don't let the niceness fool you, especially on the bandstand, especially if they think you're there to prove something. Because oh yeah, go ahead, prove it, but be ready to REALLY prove it, because this shit gets deep. ok?

There's that old saying, don't mistake my kindness for weakness.

Sonny was always ready for a duel. Like the comfort reference. Just don’t get the mathematics reference. That almost says he did it by formula, by rote.  That’s not Sonny, to me, unless Hutch meant he had a formula and stuck to it. 

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He knew the math, playing changes is very much about learning the math. But not everybody who knows the math, even really well, is a "mathematician", at least not in my mind. That would be somebody like Warne, who actively engaged the math in a way that he didn't just know the math, he played with it as part of his process. Stitt's process, it strikes me, anyway, was all about, ok, I've done the work, I got the skills. Now let me be comfortable with that, unless somebody tries to fuck with me, in which case, I will still be comfortable by fucking that guy up.

That "Eternal Triangle" thing with Rollins, that's two warriors going at it, and if Stitt only slightly shows a hint of fatigue at the end of the battle, it's not like Rollins didn't leave some blood on the floor either. It's just that...Sonny Rollins, right?

I love all these guys, please don't think otherwise. But I love them because they are all themselves, none are alike, musically or temperamentally. That was a different time, maybe. People actually want "niceness" today. Me, not such a fan, unless it's from somebody like Buddy Collette, who really DID believe in A Nice Day. Love him too.

Just saying, life has/had range. not just music, life.

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Well, my partial Sonny Stitt Roost Mosaic doesn't include disc 8 with Paul Weeden. Oh well...vinyl may not be too hard to track down. 

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

That "Eternal Triangle" thing with Rollins, that's two warriors going at it, and if Stitt only slightly shows a hint of fatigue at the end of the battle, it's not like Rollins didn't leave some blood on the floor either. It's just that...Sonny Rollins, right?

That track isn't mentioned enough in the context of either Stitt or Rollins or battles in general. We've all heard battle tracks, but 'Eternal Triangle' is the sort of moment that should be given a paragraph in your obituary notice, no matter what your other achievements.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

He knew the math, playing changes is very much about learning the math. But not everybody who knows the math, even really well, is a "mathematician", at least not in my mind. That would be somebody like Warne, who actively engaged the math in a way that he didn't just know the math, he played with it as part of his process. Stitt's process, it strikes me, anyway, was all about, ok, I've done the work, I got the skills. Now let me be comfortable with that, unless somebody tries to fuck with me, in which case, I will still be comfortable by fucking that guy up.

That "Eternal Triangle" thing with Rollins, that's two warriors going at it, and if Stitt only slightly shows a hint of fatigue at the end of the battle, it's not like Rollins didn't leave some blood on the floor either. It's just that...Sonny Rollins, right?

I love all these guys, please don't think otherwise. But I love them because they are all themselves, none are alike, musically or temperamentally. That was a different time, maybe. People actually want "niceness" today. Me, not such a fan, unless it's from somebody like Buddy Collette, who really DID believe in A Nice Day. Love him too.

Just saying, life has/had range. not just music, life.

I've mentioned before that I heard Stitt with Mal Waldron at the Jazz Medium in  Chicago in maybe the early '80s, with Mal doing his elliptical thematic comping behind him. Stitt picked up on this right away and played in that for him "different" bag quite strikingly - not change-running but intensely linear thematic thinking, not unlike Rollins on "Blue 7." 

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Somebody should have recorded that 

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Sonny Stitts only lived to be 58.

I bet that most of the people on this board have outlived, or are about to outlive, Sonny Stitts.

Sonny Stitts wants us all to know that we can all go fuck ourself and our longer-than-his lifes.

 

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6 hours ago, Peter Friedman said:

There are musicians who have that competitive urge to better the others on the bandstand. Stitt was certainly in that camp, often to the point of being cruel. Though I wonder if he took that same approach when playing with those he viewed as peers who he respected? 

 

The "Conclusion" of Art Pepper's book Straight Life is a 2-page description of an on-stage competition with Stitt at the Black Hawk in SF. Great passage, highly recommended, I'm too lazy to type it all in.

Starts (more or less) and ends with "But Sonny is one of those guys, that's the thing with him. It's a communion. It's a battle. It's an ego trip. It's a testing ground. And that's the beautiful part of it.

...

and when I finally finished I was shaking all over; my heart was pounding; I was soaked in sweat, and the people were screaming; the people were clapping, and I looked at Sonny, but I just kind of nodded, and he went 'All right.' And that was it. That's what it's all about."

Edited by T.D.

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The Complete Late Quartets with Barry Harris is great if you can find it.

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Played great baritone, too, but not often. A little taste from 1951.

 

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Thank you all for your great contributions on my thread. I´m so glad to read all this. 

And I´m glad that the "bumpin´" of a 14year old thread about Stitt could not slow down the action goin on here. 

Thank you for mentioning the video of McGhee-J.J.Johnson-Stitt-Bishop-Tommy Potter-Klook from the mid 60´s. I also have that. 

Sonny Stitt and J.J. and Klook are brilliant as ever, and it was a surprise for me that veteran bassist Tommy Potter played again, even doing a great solo. 
Howard McGhee doesn´t sound as fluid as he sounded in the bop era, he seems to have lost some of his chops. And Walter Bishop plays a completly other style than he did with Bird. It sounds more like Bobby Timmons I think. 

Here is an album from about the same time, maybe the same tour, but without J.J. (probably for contractual reasons): "Night Work". 

 

 

Herunterladen (1).jpg

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9 hours ago, Dub Modal said:

Well, my partial Sonny Stitt Roost Mosaic doesn't include disc 8 with Paul Weeden. Oh well...vinyl may not be too hard to track down. 

have played most of my records with Don Patterson in the last few days, including of course those with Weeden... Feelin's is fine (and indeed not hard to track down on LP) but my favorites are Boss Tenors in Orbit (with Ammons and Stitt) and Low Flame (with Stitt) on Jazzland... I have Low Flame on a twofer which combines it with another favorite Stitt album of mine, Shangri-La by Stitt/Patterson/James without Weeden

Edited by Niko

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