Bop sax player Sonny Stitt patterned his playing after jazz great Charlie Parker and passed on the tradition by becoming a major influence on John Coltrane. Stitt's skills made him equally adept at performing the blues as he was at performing ballads. This original 1966 Atlantic recording includes distinguished tracks such as "Deuces Wild," "In The Bag," and "Pipin' The Blues."
Personnel: Sonny Stitt (alto & tenor saxophones); Robin Kenyatta (soprano & alto saxophones); Ruf Harley (tenor saxophone, bagpipes); Wilmer Mosby (organ); Billy James (drums).
Originally released on Atlantic (3008).
Personnel: Sonny Stitt (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Rufus Harley (bagpipe, tenor saxophone); Robin Kenyatta (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Billy James (drums).
Recording information: New York, NY (09/11/1966).
Originally released on Atlantic in 1967, this welcome reissue of an above-average sax/organ date finds Sonny Stitt in a familiar setting with familiar company. The organist is listed as Wilmer Mosby, but one listen makes clear that it's the great Don Patterson working the B-3 with his customary drive, taste, and imagination. (The pseudonym may have been necessary for contractual reasons.) The core trio is rounded out by drummer Billy James, a longtime collaborator with Patterson and Stitt, who supports with a supple, active style. The performances are concise, blues-based blowing numbers. What they lack in compositional refinement they make up for in energetic execution. The one exception is the flaccid reading of the ballad standard "My Foolish Heart." Saxophonist Robin Kenyatta's serpentine facility brings a progressive dimension to the tracks "In the Bag" and "Me 'n You." Stitt, in turn, responds with a slightly more outward-bound approach on these two Kenyatta originals, the second of which is, unfortunately, flawed by an abrupt edit near the end of Patterson's solo. The final track, "Pipin' the Blues," includes a jazz rarity...bagpipes. Sounding like an electric organ (Farfisa not Hammond), piper Rufus Harley's single-note lines fit right in with Stitt's blues groove. A whole album of soul-jazz bagpipes might wear thin, but as a one-off, Harley's performance here is more than mere novelty. ~ Jim Todd