Edward “Sonny” Stitt was born on February 2. 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. Sonny grew up in a very musical family as his father was a college music professor, his mother a piano teacher, and his brother a classically trained pianist. Stitt began his career on alto sax inspired by the playing of Charlie Parker and Lester Young. Sonny played for Tiny Bradshaw’s band in the early 1940s before replacing Charlie Parker in Dizzy Gillespie’s band and recording with Gillespie and Stan Getz in 1945. In the second half of the ‘40s Stitt played with in Billy Eckstein’s band with Gene Ammons and Dexter Gordon as well as Bud Powell.
In 1950 Stitt switched to tenor saxophone in began to develop a more original and unique sound came into his own. He played with Bud Powell and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and recorded many records on the Prestige Records, Verve, Argo and Roost. Sonny made some Afro-Cuban records in the late 1950s with Chick Corea and Thad Jones on the Roost and Verve Record labels. Stitt joined the Miles Davis Quintet for a period in the early ‘60s before recording ‘Stitt Plays Bird’ with Jim Hall. Sonny made several records with Gene Ammon and the duo is considered to be one of the best in Jazz and made at the height of both players’ careers. In the late 1960’s Sonny made some soul jazz with Booker Ervin including the album ‘Soul People’ in 1964 as well as albums with Duke Ellington and Paul Gonsalves.
Stitt experimented with the electric saxophone in 1971 on the album ‘Just The Way It Was – Live At The Left Bank’ and made what many deem his definitive album, ‘Tune Up’ in 1972. Sonny then joined the Giants of Jazz playing with Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie. and Thelonious Monk. Stitt continued on playing making his last recordings in Japan before passing in 1982. Sonny recorded over 100 albums and remains one of the most important figures in bebop and hard bop and gave influences to many musicians including John Coltrane.
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