Personnel: Sonny Stitt (alto & tenor saxophones); Joe Newman (trumpet); Kenny Drew, Junior Mance (piano); John Hunt, Billy Massey, Charlie Bateman, John Houston.
Originally released on Prestige (7077).
Deftly handling the alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, bebop giant Sonny Stitt is heard to perfection here on a variety of early-'50s dates. Stitt not only shows off his patented speed throughout, but he goes a long way in dispelling criticisms of him being all fire and no grace. The 16-track disc kicks off with four tight, Latin-tinged swingers featuring an octet that includes trumpeter Joe Newman and timbales player Humberto Morales. Switching to piano quartet mode for the bulk of the disc, Stitt ranges effortlessly from frenetic blasts ("Cherokee") to golden-hued ballads ("Imagination"). Capping off the set with four bonus cuts featuring the likes of Gene Ammons and Junior Mance, Stitt delivers one of the top sets of performances from the late bebop era. ~ Stephen Cook