Jump to content

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


Gheorghe
 Share

Recommended Posts

5 hours ago, Niko said:

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

Nice. I suspected there was a Legends of Acid Jazz volume but I didnt find it on discogs yesterday. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 189
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

On 8/12/2021 at 3:17 PM, 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...'
 

It was first issued on "The Lost Sessions" in 1999. The Dexter quote about the session is from Cuscuna's notes for the cd.

51DVmHJtcjL.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Chuck Nessa said:

It was first issued on "The Lost Sessions" in 1999. The Dexter quote about the session is from Cuscuna's notes for the cd.

51DVmHJtcjL.jpg

Just to nitpick, the Dexter box came first.  On the back of The Lost Sessions, it says "All selections, except #9 and #12, previously unissued."  (#12 was the Herbie Hancock track that appeared on his box set.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn´t purchase it when it was for sale, since I had that fix that I only buy albums of a complete session, no "left-overs". 

I was even reluctant buying BN albums that were previously unissued or rejected, since they often disappointed me, like McLean´s "Tippin the Scales", like Freddie Redd´s unissued album with that blurry ensembles and weak trumpet and drums..., 

So I forgot about this. Later I considered buying it for the Tadd Dameron tracks, but rejected the idea after reading some reviews about it. Only, it would have been the last occasion of Dameron playing himself, before he became too ill to touch the keys of a piano....(see "Magic Touch") 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51DVmHJtcjL.jpg

I very much dig this collection of odds 'n sods, and reading this thread makes me wish that BN would do an expanded version of it on vinyl, especially the rest of the Dexter & Stitt session.  But then I'd like to hear the rest of the other supposedly failed sessions too. It's a different world now, as Jim said above. I don't have Stitt's competitive thing myself, not at all, but it doesn't bug me that he did.  He was who he was.  But I prefer Dexter.  Some of that is sound.  Some of that is that I like behind the beat playing.  But most of it is personality, Sonny certainly has one, but I prefer Dexter's.  Pity Dex and Rollins never recorded together.  And of the two Stitt sessions with Pepper, the second is definitely the better, after they'd tested each other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 19.8.2021 at 5:11 AM, danasgoodstuff said:

51DVmHJtcjL.jpg

 

Some of that is that I like behind the beat playing.  

 

I´ve tried to identify other musicians who would play behind the beat, but with the exception of Dexter none comes to my mind, or if there ar, maybe they not on my "playing lists", maybe? 
I hear Bird/Bud/Diz and co from the Bop Era, Miles, Rollins, Trane, Mingus, Ornette, Joe Henderson and so on and so on, this is only a few of them,  but who plays behind the beat  ?  Or is that another kind of music, maybe the ECM Stuff that Is not really reprezented in my playing lists (with the exception of Drum Ode and Lookout Farm by Liebman).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Gheorghe said:

I´ve tried to identify other musicians who would play behind the beat, but with the exception of Dexter none comes to my mind, or if there ar, maybe they not on my "playing lists", maybe? 
I hear Bird/Bud/Diz and co from the Bop Era, Miles, Rollins, Trane, Mingus, Ornette, Joe Henderson and so on and so on, this is only a few of them,  but who plays behind the beat  ?  Or is that another kind of music, maybe the ECM Stuff that Is not really reprezented in my playing lists (with the exception of Drum Ode and Lookout Farm by Liebman).

Lester Young -- where do you think Dexter got it? And almost all of Pres' other host of disciples.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dexter playing waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy behind the beat (as ooposed to his normal behind the beat) is really a 70s thing for him, and it kept accelerating (sic). By the time the early 80s rolled around...the one time I saw him was in Chicago, 1981, he was over an hour late, came in drenched in sweat, high as fuck, and immediately received a roaring, standing ovation, and proceeded to play beyond beautifully all night. When you talk about "charisma", I saw it in person, and it was SO real.

But behind the beat, jeeeeeesus, the way I described it then and now is that he was SO far behind the beat that I kept waiting for him to come up and bite it in the ass, that's how far behind the beat he was.

I loved it. I enjoy a good high-wire act, and a great one even more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

Is it a West Coast thing too? (Probably a result of a pervasive Lester Young influence, although that could just be stereotype).

One example:

 

R-2560815-1290516865.jpeg.jpg

To the degree that many West Coast tenor men were Pres disciples. Perkins and Kamuca for sure.  Giuffre on tenor. For that matter, a la Dex, Wardell Gray.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 20.8.2021 at 3:28 PM, JSngry said:

Dexter playing waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy behind the beat (as ooposed to his normal behind the beat) is really a 70s thing for him, and it kept accelerating (sic). By the time the early 80s rolled around...the one time I saw him was in Chicago, 1981, he was over an hour late, came in drenched in sweat, high as fuck, and immediately received a roaring, standing ovation, and proceeded to play beyond beautifully all night. When you talk about "charisma", I saw it in person, and it was SO real.

But behind the beat, jeeeeeesus, the way I described it then and now is that he was SO far behind the beat that I kept waiting for him to come up and bite it in the ass, that's how far behind the beat he was.

I loved it. I enjoy a good high-wire act, and a great one even more.

As for Lester Young it seems it never disturbed me. It really swings. 

But about Dexter in the late 70´s early 80´s it really starts to disturb me as years passed. 

With Lester, it always swings, and with Dexter it seems to swing only due to the superb rhythm section. If I listen closely to it, as an unit it almost seems to drop completely . 

Even in the early 70s there were occasions where it didn´t disturb, as on his Prestige albums and on the three CDs "Swiss Nights", but later.....

The last occasions I saw Dexter in the 80´s was in March 1980, in summer 1981 , and early in 1983. I think he was high on each occasion, but 1983 was really an embarassing experience. He was late, completely drunk, and not as sharp dressed as usually and his playing uninspired and the set was extremly short.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why was Oscar Peterson a star and not Jaki Byard or Phimeas Newborn, Jr.?

Popularity beyond the core of jazz fanatics seems to be very unpredictable. 
 

I saw Dexter and Sonny Stitt live in the late 1970s. Sonny sat on a stool and never spoke. If the club owner had not shouted often between songs about how lucky we were to have the great Sonny Stitt with us, he could have gone almost unnoticed. 
 

Dexter commanded the room, and the 2,000 seat auditorium in which I saw him live twice. He had a way of talking between songs which seemed tongue in cheek but was appealing and sometimes funny. He stood tall and you had to look at him. I saw 2,000 college students  become captivated by his performances and they gave him loud ovations. 

Edited by Hot Ptah
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 23.8.2021 at 1:37 PM, Hot Ptah said:

Why was Oscar Peterson a star and not Jaki Byard or Phimeas Newborn, Jr.?

Popularity beyond the core of jazz fanatics seems to be very unpredictable. 
 

I saw Dexter and Sonny Stitt live in the late 1970s. Sonny sat on a stool and never spoke. If the club owner had not shouted often between songs about how lucky we were to have the great Sonny Stitt with us, he could have gone almost unnoticed. 
 

Dexter commanded the room, and the 2,000 seat auditorium in which I saw him live twice. He had a way of talking between songs which seemed tongue in cheek but was appealing and sometimes funny. He stood tall and you had to look at him. I saw 2,000 college students  become captivated by his performances and they gave him loud ovations. 

Thanks for your interesting example of pianists. 

But the interesting thing about Oscar Peterson is, that he almost never was fully mentioned in books about jazz during my youth (Joachim Behrend, Arrigo Pollilo, Leonard Feather, Ira Gitler, etc.)  He didn´t make "history", he filled concert halls, mostly with people in evening robes who otherwise do not listen to jazz. He was a very technical pianist but tended to play clichés and just banged all them keys and covered everything, with that grin he had.... But he was never a history figure like Trane, Miles, Monk, Diz, Rollins and ....yeah Dexter of course as one of the jazz masters of the 40´s and still running very well in later years. 

And yeah, Dexter compared to Stitt was a showman, an entertainer and of course one of the most important post war tenors. 

Maybe my question in the title of the topic was very influenced by my kind of listening more like a musician. I don´t need to have a guy who´s nice and talks to the audience, I listen very closely to each note and how he resolves difficult chord progressions and can play all tempos from ballad to real uptempo. That´s maybe that recently I found more stuff to learn and study than Dexter in his last years when he had become a star.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm currently listening to Low Flame. Stitt's playing is great - precise, yet emotional, but also capable of little unexpected steps, like tweaks in embouchure that you don't expect.

For all that, it is noticeable how uninterested he sounds in the date. There's a sense that he just turned up, played, and left, without giving it a moment's thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is interesting that, before this thread, I had never thought of Dexter Gordon as being much more famous than Sonny Stitt.  Of course, Dexter spent a lot of time in Europe.  So it is natural that Europe become much more familiar with Dexter than Stitt.  

When I first become interested in jazz in the early 70s, it seemed to be more like the opposite in the US.  Stitt was a household name among jazz fans while Dexter Gordon was someone who made some good records in the past, but was now living and working abroad.   That changed dramatically with the "Homecoming" album and the subsequent extensive US tours.  Suddenly Dexter Gordon was on the cover of all the jazz magazines and getting stellar reviews. 

As far as consistency is concerned, yes, Dexter Gordon could have off nights when maybe he had a couple too many drinks.   But I think that Stitt was even more inconsistent.  I saw him several times when he just didn't even seem interested in what he was doing.  It was like he just wanted to get paid and leave, and the music could sound that way too. Stitt is the only saxophone player I have seen who could chain smoke through an entire concert, blowing with one breath and puffing with another.  Other times, Stitt was magical live.  But going to see him was like rolling dice.   The probability that Dexter would play well was higher.

 

 

  

Edited by John L
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, John L said:

It is interesting that, before this thread, I had never thought of Dexter Gordon as being much more famous than Sonny Stitt.  Of course, Dexter spent a lot of time in Europe.  So it is natural that Europe become much more familiar with Dexter than Stitt.  

When I first become interested in jazz in the early 70s, it seemed to be more like the opposite in the US.  Stitt was a household name among jazz fans while Dexter Gordon was someone who made some good records in the past, but was now living and working abroad.   That changed dramatically with the "Homecoming" album and the subsequent extensive US tours.  Suddenly Dexter Gordon was on the cover of all the jazz magazines and getting stellar reviews. 

As far as consistency is concerned, yes, Dexter Gordon could have off nights when maybe he had a couple too many drinks.   But I think that Stitt was even more inconsistent.  I saw him several times when he just didn't even seem interested in what he was doing.  It was like he just wanted to get paid and leave, and the music could sound that way too. Stitt is the only saxophone player I have seen who could chain smoke through an entire concert, blowing with one breath and puffing with another.  Other times, Stitt was magical live.  But going to see him was like rolling dice.   The probability that Dexter would play well was higher.

 

 

  

Thank you John for your interesting comparation of Dexter and Stitt. 

I had the same impression, that Dexter though he was drinking excessivly, he at least came in action on stage and at least between 1978-1981 he seldom disappointed his audience. 

In March 1980 I had the interesting possibility to see them both within an interval of 3 days in Viena.

Stitt played with some stellar European players like the great Fritz Pauer on piano, the great Aladár Pege on bass and Fritz Ozmec on drums. It was obvious from the first moment that Stitt was quite juiced. He nevertheless played a satisfying two sets concert, though there were moments when he became shitty and treated those great musicians like schoolboys, lecturing them on stage. About chain-smoking, well smoking on stage was the most normal thing then, but I observed that Stitt didn´t smoke sooo much, and if he lighted sometimes a cigarette, he took two or three smokes and threw the cigarette down. After the concert he was invited to continue at the famous club "Jazz by Freddie", but then it was a disappointing thing. Stitt was so drunk it was incredible. He played with the same rhythm section but had to sit down. There were to other young and fine tenorplayers who shared stage with him: Roman Schwaller and Harry Sokal. It was announced as "The Father of the Tenor Saxophone and Two of his Sons". Well, Stitt sure was a legend, but he never would have been "The Father of the Tenor Saxophone". They played two Blues in B-Flat, maybe "Tenor Madness" and "Blues Walk", and then things went out of control. Stitt sat down at the piano and started to fumble around at the piano, tried to "sing" and made grimasses at the audience. When the set was over, he would have left without his saxophone and someone had to run after him and give him his saxophone.......just sad I´d say. 

Dexter´s long set 3 days later was much better. Though it was obvious that Dexter also had a great amount of alcool in his blood, he at least played really extended solos and still was not as far behind the beat as he would be later. The group was Dexter with Kirk Leightsey, John Heard and Eddie Gladden and as much as I remember they played "It´s You or No One", "Fried Bananas", "More than you know" and "Backstages". On Backstages there was an endless drum solo by Gladden and that´s the only time Dexter had a bottle of beer and a cigarette. 

The last time I saw Dexter was in 1983 and it was a performance almost as embarassing as that Stitt-Performance I already described. 

Otherwise during my decades of listening to live music I seldom was disappointed, there was only one more time we all left embarrassed, when Woody Shaw did Viena in 1987. It was chain smoking and chain drinking on stage and a very shaky trumpet playing....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re Stitt's competitiveness, Laurie Pepper has some interesting things to say about Art's session with Stitt in the notes for the Hollywood All-Star Sessions box. She makes it clear that Stitt made Pepper very nervous, and that it was his least favorite of those sessions, even though he played pretty well.

I wonder if Stitt's brief flirtation with the Varitone hurt him a little with critics and listeners. I always thought it was a gimmick and was glad when he jettisoned it.

 

gregmo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

How did Stitt react to that? I've seen videos of Stitt getting pretty irrascible.

I think he started to become irrascible quite early. It´s described in the book about the live of Paul Chambers (Mr. PC), where he starts to shout at PC in the bus in GB, when he sat next to a british bass player, and said something about "white honk" .

On the other hand, on a video from the Giants of Jazz he is very articulate and announces Kai Winding to the Danish audience as being also born in Denmark and announces what Kai Winding will play. And.....Kai Winding was white. 

But I think Sonny Stitt became somehow a bitter person, he thought he might have gotten more fame, not being in the shadow of Bird.....

Dexter, with exception of his heavy drinking and some weak performances and being late on show, was a more positive person. He could make fans and friends much easier. 

Art Pepper......well I think he was the most erratic of all of them. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, Steve Reynolds said:

An aside - I saw Von Freeman twice in Chicago probably 1997 & 1999 I think. 
 

first time first tune - medium tempo thing - still the best tenor playing over changes I’ve ever witnessed plus I was less than 10 feet away. Was it at The Apartment? It was his weekly gig at the time. 

The New Apartment Lounge on 75th if it was on the South Side.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...