Among Sonny Stitt’s innumerable recordings, this production – made in a Parisian studio in May 1959 – is undoubtedly one of his very best. To be sure, this is greatly due to the contribution of the tremendously talented rhythm group. It is certainly a privilege to play sessions alongside such musicians as Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. Shortly before recording these funky, back-to-the-roots numbers Sonny Stitt had set down a somewhat over-arranged LP with Jimmy Giuffre. Maybe that is why his joy in music-making comes over so clearly in these eight titles.
The repertoire too is interesting because the A side is dedicated to his great musical hero Charlie Parker and contains two of his hits, namely “Au Privave” and “Scrapple From The Apple”, while the B side reflects the relaxed, cool world of Count Basie, Lester Young and Ben Webster. It’s only logical therefore, that Stitt changes from the alto sax to the tenor for two numbers from the early days of the Count Basie Orchestra, a time when the two musicians were outstanding soloists. Obeisance to the giants of jazz can only be expressed in blues, and with all due respect for “… all the other funky ones”, Stitt shows that by 1959 he had found his own, sophisticated style.
Sonny Stitt’s unmistakable sound on both saxophones is just as present on this Verve LP as on his other recordings. His place in the front row of the divine jazz band in jazz heaven (should this ever exist) is undisputed.