Diz and Stitt Duets: Part II
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1975 session belongs to Diz, and it's the best he's sounded to me on record since the mid-fifties Duets with Stitt, Rollins, Getz on Verve. In fact, listening to him closely is enough to convince me he was still the very best (the times I caught him live during the '60s and '70s he rarely played more than a single chorus and spent excessive time clowning around and joking (in a way, appropriate, because he was always, above all else, a "player"). Stitt's sound is glorious, especially on a memorable version of "Confirmation" and a stirring resurrection of the only ballad that most of the original beboppers knew: "Lover Man."
The session was made by Swedes on their Sonet label (they also came to the rescue with some fine Art Blakey in the 70s). It's still commercially available from an overseas distributer at a very reasonable price with cheap postage and fast delivery. Try: Grooves-inc dot com."
A fine embodiment of Americana.
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 03/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album, called "The Bop Session," was recorded in New York City on May 19-20, 1975. The musicians are Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, John Lewis, Percy Heath, Hank Jones, and Max Roach. The album is basically a shared Stitt/Gillespie album, and most of the album is devoted to solos of these two persons. All the pieces are in the "be bop" style. There are no Cuban congas, Brazilian harmonies, pleasant Broadway melodies, or sprited blues wailings. These chamber music pieces are unadorned with singing, chanting, electric guitars, or vibraphones. The piano and drums only have relatively short periods for soloing. On the other hand, the album could be called "The Percy Heath Bass Album," since bass notes spew continuously throughout, virtually without pause, where the bass lines are always clearly defined and right out in front.
In all the pieces the saxophone comes from the left speaker (depending on how the wires are hooked up), the trumpet from the right, and the bass, drums, and piano from the center. For best appreciation of the album, the volume should be turned up, to enable hearing Max Roach's clicking cymbol rhythms.
1. Blue'n'Boogie. This piece is unusual, in this set, because after the intro there is a piano solo (rather than a sax or trumpet solo). Next comes a sax solo which, at one point, appears to quote from a fragment of When the Saints Go Marching In. At another point, Mr.Stitt plays one note repeatedly, but with two different fingers, providing an interesting effect. Then there's a trumpet solo. Next a bass solo. There is a drum solo, which concludes with an alternating interlude. Overall, the alternating interlude could be construed as a drum solo, and it consists of the instruments taking turns like this: trumpet, sax, drums, trumpet, drums, sax, drums, trumpet, drums, and sax.
2. Confirmation. Confirmation and Groovin' High are tunes for all Americans to learn by heart. First comes a sax solo. The sax solo contains many notes, as one might expect. They are strung together in a way that invokes oozing honey, melting butter, or a cube of vibrating jelly. At one point in the solo, Mr.Stitt plays one note repeatedly, but with two different fingerings, providing a special effect (see above). There's a trumpet solo. Then a piano solo. Then come multiple bass solos, each bracketed by an ascending fluttering motif on trumpet/sax. There are six such ascending fluttering motifs.
3. Groovin' High. The sax solo consists of many notes, as one might expect, but one of them is distorted (intended or not). The single distorted note provides a more powerful effect than repeatedly playing distorted notes, here and there throughout the piece. (Thirty years ago, in the mid 70s, I heard Dave Holland and Sam Rivers at Keystone Korner in San Francisco. In the middle of one of the pieces, Sam Rivers stopped playing saxophone for a moment, and screamed into the microphone, then resumed playing. He didn't do that again, during that particular evening. Doing odd things once can have a bigger effect than doing them a plurality of times.) Then comes a trumpet solo. Then a piano solo. Groovin' High is unique among these pieces in that it concludes with a dramatic fanfare.
4. Lover Man. This piece is slow, though the lenghthy muted trumpet solo contains a few spurting arpeggios that are as quick as those found elsewhere in this set. Lover Man begins with a long sax solo. Then there's a muted trumpet solo. Then a short piano solo. Then a sax solo.
5. All the Things You Are. Begins with a sax and muted trumpet duet. Then a muted trumpet solo. Then sax solo. In this piece, the sax has a somewhat sharper tone, rather than the more honey-toned saxophone tone found in the other pieces. Then a piano solo. Then a non-muted trumpet interlude, DRUM SOLO, sax solo, DRUM SOLO, trumpet solo, DRUM SOLO, sax solo, DRUM SOLO, trumpet solo, DRUM SOLO, sax solo, DRUM SOLO, finally a duet with muted trumpet and sax.
6. Lady Bird. Lady Bird begins with a sax solo. The saxophone solo contains Sonny Stitt's trademark ascending fluttering arpeggios. Muted trumpet solo. Piano solo (the longest on this album). Bass solo. Drum solo. The ending comprises Sonny Stitt playin the tune (theme) while Gillespie improvises on this tume.
In my opinion, every American high school student should be issued a copy of "The Bop Session," (along with Appalchian Spring and Ives' A Symphony:New England Holidays) prior to graduation, as part of their acculturation process. The Bop Session is a perfectly executed album of music.