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This bop star tore it up on the alto, tenor and baritone sax, and you'll hear all three on this roundup of his complete 1949-1952 Prestige bebop recordings. You'll also hear Gene Ammons, Duke Jordan, Bud Powell and Max Roach as you dig Elora; Blue Mode; Sonny Side; Fine and Dandy; Avalon; Bye Bye; Gravy; La Vie en Rose; Confessin' beautiful stuff.
Sonny Stitt may be one of the most neglected figures of the bop era, a brilliant alto saxophonist unjustly overlooked for his stylistic resemblance to Charlie Parker. But as this exemplary three-CD set demonstrates, Stitt was his own man, and his style could still serve as a definition of bop, his lithe, high-speed lines and effortless swing propelling him through complex chord changes and sometimes fractured rhythms. Stitt is heard in numerous settings here, from octet to quartet and from appearances with giants like trombonist J.J. Johnson and pianist Bud Powell to journeyman groups that still pulse with the vitality of jazz's first revolution. Stitt's fluid brilliance is as apparent on ballads and standards as it is on the kinetic bop tunes, and it readily translates to tenor saxophone. There are numerous tracks by the two-tenor band he co-led with Gene Ammons, highlighting the contrast between Stitt's swift, complex phrases and Ammons's gruff passion. --Stuart Broomer