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Sonny Stitt: Stitt’s Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952

Charles Mingus once said that the full title of his tune “Gunslinging Bird” was “If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger, There’d be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats.” I doubt that Mingus had Sonny Stitt in mind, but who knows? Maybe he did. Stitt sounded a lot like Bird, and he was a few years younger. I can’t believe Parker’s playing didn’t impact Stitt at some point. Certainly it had by 1949, when the first of these sides were recorded.

Ultimately, it matters little. However he came by his style, Stitt was his own kind of monster. As annotator Harvey Pekar writes in the booklet accompanying this set: “At the very worst Stitt was one of the first musicians to be influenced by Bird.” True enough. A lot of musicians have been in thrall of Charlie Parker. Relatively few have played with one-tenth the skill and conviction of Stitt.

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