Sonny Stitt: I Got Rhythm


I Got Rhythm


Sonny Stitt (alto and tenor saxes)


Endgame Brilliance: Constellation and Tune Up! (32 JAZZ 2009292)

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Sonny Stitt (alto and tenor saxes), Barry Harris (piano), Sam Jones (bass),

Alan Dawson (drums)


Composed by George & Ira Gershwin


Recorded: New York, February 8, 1972


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

The two albums that Sonny Stitt recorded in 1972 for respected producer Don Schlitten's Cobblestone label were among the finest of the 150 or so sessions that Stitt led during his prolific career. Coming off a very successful international tour with the Giants of Jazz, a group that included Dizzy, Monk and Art Blakey, Stitt was in top form. Add a highly compatible rhythm section and a no-gimmick concept, and you were almost assured of hearing Stitt at full throttle, rather than on autopilot as was too often the case when he entered the studio.

What makes this over 9-minute version of "I Got Rhythm," originally from the Tune Up! release, so memorable is that it showcases at length Stitt's equally formidable proficiency on both alto and tenor. Stitt commences on tenor in a bluesy loping fashion, sounding almost like a big band sax section all by himself, before going up tempo with a clarion call. His swift, fresh extended lines, rhythmically varied attack, and artful resolutions continue throughout this exhilarating, romping improvisation that defies all expectations, in that it jumps from peak to yet higher peak. You may find yourself sitting there shaking your head from side to side in disbelief, while tapping your foot uncontrollably. Harris, Jones and Dawson are in rousingly tight formation behind him all the way, and Harris delivers an inspired, eloquent bop proclamation of his own before Stitt returns on alto for a second, shorter solo. Again, Stitt's dexterity and imagination are in perfect sync, with nary a wasted note. Stitt moves back to tenor for the winding down, a testifying, soulful ending to a masterpiece.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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