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I just found this great video of dizzy and sonny Stitt. I had this on cassette as a kid and listened to it over and again. I could tell one of the singers was dizzy, but never knew until now the other singer was sonny Stitt:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s8UEGmAvWfM

I had various thoughts while watching this, any of which might be interesting to some, or none, of you. If you have any thoughts, please add’em!

1: my dad and I went to see Jan garbarek at Manchester free trade hall in about 1991. It was the tour after the i took up the runes album. My dad was knocked out by garbareks tone and by Marilyn mazur’s percussion. But a hundred times since then we’ve had this conversation: Dad: oh yeah garbarek has that fantastic sound , but I just wish he’d smile a bit, and talk to the audience. Me: yeah, but he’s not that kind of player, dad, he sees himself like a classical musician, he just wants to play his music. Dad: well, at least he could say hello, and thank the audience for coming.

My point is that dizzy seems the opposite end of this scale, to me, and yet no one would question dizzy’s music credentials. I don’t have a question about this, it’s an observation.

2: there’s a famous anecdote about sonny stitt walking up and down the tour bus on Norman granz’s jazz at the Phil tour, playing sax and getting in everyone’s faces: he’s going: so whaddya think of this, hey? And blowing sax down people’s ears. Lester young lifts up his hat and goes : very sweet, lady stitt, but can you sing me a song?

Lou Donaldson criticizes stitt, in an interview somewhere, too, for not sticking to the melody enough, when soloing; or at least, he says something about how sonny’s solos were not connected to the melody - he was playing over the chord sequence and the solo could be superimposed over another similar sequence; it had lost its connection to the song. Then he compares him to bird, who he says always incorporated the melody throughout.

So Donaldson’s criticism is similar to Lester young’s : stitt is just showing off, playing over chords. But my point is that I don’t hear that here. Sonny’s solo seems logical and melodic to me. You can recognize various Parker licks and bebop patterns but I don’t think it’s completely disconnected from the tune.

3. This is a technical point. Stitt adjusts his mouthpiece placement while playing the tune. I’ve recently been playing a new mouthpiece on alto, but it’s a bit tight on the cork. I couldn’t do what stitt does here; in fact I put the mouthpiece on the neck then put the lig and reed on after. Obviously this isn’t practical for making these kind of adjustments in performance.

Edit: so my point is that I guess the cork should be sanded until it’s narrow enough to move the mouthpiece easily like this to adjust tuning on the fly? Mine aren’t on both alto and tenor; if I moved my mouthpiece like that the ligature on my alto piece would slip.
 

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Is that the same as Manchester Craftsman's Guild? I heard of that place and it's famous I think, but I have no idea what it is. Or where.
 

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This "version" of Sunny Side was originally done by Dizzy along with Sonny Rollins and Stitt for Verve records (1957 I believe). Diz is the only one who sings on the studio recording. I'm quite sure Sonny joined Diz in singing on this video for (more or less) humor sake:


Regarding the mouthpiece adjustment, I don't see an issue with it. If your mouthpiece isn't too tight on the cork to allow it, what's the big deal? I've done it myself many times for two reasons: Either to adjust the left/right angle of the 'piece or to simply push in a tad if I'm flat or pull out a tad if I'm sharp.
 

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Very nice recording!

Stitt is a great tenor player with tons of technic and is often showing off, but for me not in an un-musical way. He could play more simple, check for instance his recordings with organist Jack McDuff.

From what I read he was not the nicest person to work with, always challenging knowledge of others and trying to outplay them. He also had a lot of frustration in him, one of the reasons mentioned for that could be that he was mainly seen as a copy cat of Parker, while Stitt himself always said he developed his style parallel to Bird. I think that frustration also made him playing the tenor as often or even more than his alto.

I played and recorded that 'Sonny Side' arrangement with a combo I played in many moons ago, here is our version:
https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11901677
 

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Very nice recording!

Stitt is a great tenor player with tons of technic and is often showing off, but for me not in an un-musical way. He could play more simple, check for instance his recordings with organist Jack McDuff.

From what I read he was not the nicest person to work with, always challenging knowledge of others and trying to outplay them. He also had a lot of frustration in him, one of the reasons mentioned for that could be that he was mainly seen as a copy cat of Parker, while Stitt himself always said he developed his style parallel to Bird. I think that frustration also made him playing the tenor as often or even more than his alto.

I played and recorded that 'Sonny Side' arrangement with a combo I played in many moons ago, here is our version:
https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11901677
Always quite the debatable topic, Peter! IF I could play like Stitt did, I'd probably be a bit of a pain to deal with (as far as other musicians are concerned) too. He was simply at a COMPLETELY different level when it came to improvising in that genre/idiom. Without a doubt, Stitt was T-H-E ultimate "lick" improvisor and his execution at no matter what the tempo, was simply amazing. Regarding the stories and what other people had to say about him (or any other musician's "temper") I've learned to take with a huge grain of salt. As far as I know, none of us here ever met or had any interaction with him, so I'll just continue to listen and shake my head in amazement.........not caring about what kid of person he might or might not have been.
NICE recording, btw!

J.
 

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Fully agree John, and indeed I could only repeat what I've read about him (which is a lot because he is one of my favourite players).

An amazing musician for sure and on a level most of us (if not all) can only dream about.
 

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I saw both Sonny Stitt and Dizzy playing live on several occasions, including both of them playing together. Those are some fond memories! Both just super great players, which kinda goes without saying.

Regarding your question on adjusting the mpc, get some cork grease and a ligature that doesn't slip. If after using the cork grease you still can't adjust the mpc, then sand the cork down a (little) bit. Obviously you don't want the mpc slipping too easily, but it shouldn't be a problem to adjust it without difficulty.
 
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