Destructible recording; indestructible music.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 06/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"According to the album notes supplied by Verve, this one is available only until June 2007. I'm watching it, waiting for it to self-destruct or something, but it seems to be intact. So unless there's a legal issue involved, now might be the time to grab it--or pay the late premium price for a Japanese reissue.
The previous reviewer, Mr. Richmond, is right on the money with each of his sentences. It's hard to go wrong with Sonny (not necessarily the most innovative but certainly the "most perfect" saxophone player), who is estimated to have recorded approximately 150 sessions under his own name in his 30-year-career! He was a ubiquitous lone wolf, loved tenor and alto "battles," was the instrumental Sinatra of the American Songbook (as his Roost recordings--5-6 perfect performances per side--abundantly illustrate).
This session isn't nearly as good as many that are out of print. "New York Jazz" is like listening to an Art Tatum recording--slightly overwhelming but indispensable; "Sonny Stitt with the Oscar Peterson Trio" is worth the price of the Japanese import; "In Style" finds him in rare form on both horns, sometimes on the same tune.
Sonny played through pain, hard knocks, heavy hang-overs, but he kept playing--and 95% of it is can't miss. But avoid anything with "Ronnie Scott's" or "Left-Bank" in the title (both are rip-offs) as well as any sessions on which he distorts his gorgeous sound with the Selmer Varitone attachment that he favored for several years in the late '60s. Also, he appeared with Blakey's Jazz Messengers on two dates in the '60s--the 2nd one, on Impulse ("Jazz Message," I believe) is a real bummer (at least for a Stitt performance).
Perhaps the most currently prized out-of-print set is "Endgame Brilliance," a single CD compilation of the two studio sessions--"Tune Up" and "Constellation"--that caused musicians and critics to "rediscover" him in the early to mid-1970s. (It may be coming out as a Spanish import.) Finally, the most fascinating match-up in the music: the six months Sonny played with Miles in 1960 following the departure of Coltrane. It's a colossal struggle--Miles' new modernist, modal bag vs. Sonny's Bird-inherited harmonic universe and bop language. Miles tries everything to shove Sonny's face in the new music, but he'll have none of it (in person, Sonny could be outgoing and personable--and as tough, stubborn and independent as they come, barely more approachable than Miles). Neither player gives an inch (available only on overseas recordings made in France and Sweden).
If life were fair, at least 80% of Sonny's recordings would still be in print, and the trilogy of great American performers of the 20th century would be Crosby, Sinatra and Stitt (with all apologies to the keepers of the gate at Graceland)."
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 04/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prior to purchasing Sonny Stitt's "Personal Appearance," and its companion in this Verve limited edition series, "New York Jazz," I only owned three of the alto-saxophonist's albums -- "Sits in with the Oscar Peterson Trio," "Salt and Pepper" and "Stitt Plays Bird" (see my review of the latter). Well I may have to money-up and get Stitt's Mosaic set now because these two albums have just blown me away! The aforementioned three titles were certainly solid efforts, but on each Stitt had to share the limelight so to speak -- with Peterson, Paul Gonsalves and Charlie Parker's compositions respectively. But on these dates, it's Stitt out front in a quartet setting, and the ideas never stop flowing, nor do his phrases become repetitive. "Personal Appearance," a 5/12/57 session featuring Bobby Timmons, Edgar Willis (on bass -- I've never heard of him before), and Kenny Dennis, may be a notch below "New York Jazz" both in terms of playing and sound quality, but it is a first rate modern jazz album. Stitt breathes new life into eight standards, and tackles three originals, the best of which is the amusingly titled "Original?" Mosaic, have your operators standing by -- my next "Personal Appearance" will be to buy Stitt's Roost set."