Sensual Sound of Sonny Stitt - JazzWax

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September 14, 2011


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Doug Zielke

A great story, Marc, but can't help but wonder...did the kid's parents ever wake up to their dwindling record collection?
I often thought about a similar plan; trading my father's classical LP's for jazz down at the used record shop. I probably would have been caught after the first one!

Ed Leimbacher

From Summer Sequence/Early Autumn and other charts for Woody Herman, through his own Spring Sequence and Studio 5 LPs, and on to Where There's Burns There's Fire and the album with Stitt, Ralph left his mark on Modern Jazz. But those last two albums were released in 1962. What became of Burns after that? Movie scores? Vegas? Pop vocal accompaniments? Creative flame-out? I'm probably just ignorant here, but I can't recall anything else. Would someone enlighten me, please?

Pat Gannon

Marc, you are so right about that Sonny Stitt album. It is a thing of beauty. I remember my own folks' record collection and three standouts were Tutti's Trumpets, We Like Brass and Basie Plays Sinatra. We lived on a dead end and my Dad put speakers outside so we kids could enjoy the music...while doing yard work! But no neighbors to bother so we turned up the tunes. Lord knows how many hours of good music we enjoyed over many years.

Jon Foley

@Ed Leimbacher - Check out his Wikipedia bio, especially the last two paragraphs under "Career."

Paul Wood

"Back when I was a kid," Marc, 30 years before you were, my parents moved from Germany to Manhattan in 1939 where the public schools were still, more or less, OK, at least at PS 173. It didn't take very long to discover the record store on 181st street nor the Audubon Theater on 165th and Broadway where for 27 cents you could see a double feature and a big name band like Jimmy Dorsey or Zinn Arthur, the latter who became an important photographer of the stars after the war and who passed away just 8 years ago. Pop and jazz, other than the Yankees who I adore to this day, were my main passion and my 10 inch shellac record collection grew as my meager weekly allowance permitted. This comprised mostly of big band music and vocalists like Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey as well as Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Charlie Barnett and many more. Imagine the culture shock of moving from Washington Heights to Beverly Hills two years later and going to school where some of the kids were dropped off in a chauffeur driven LaSalle. It was then and the nightly classical music radio broadcasts sponsored by the Southern California Gas Company when I began to turn to serious music and 12 inch shellac record albums. Crawfords, the only record store in town, was on my way home from school where one could listen to music in small glass enclosed booths all afternoon. Mrs. Crawford who had a son at Beverly High was very generous to cater to our needs. I remember when my friend, André Previn, special ordered a copy of Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" (12") which we all awaited with great anticipation. Later on we sat next to each other in Mrs. Moore's music appreciation class. André brought the scores to class which he read along with the recordings. His playing the Rhapsody in Blue was a big hit at our high school assemblies. By the time the LP came into fashion my classical collection had grown to such an extent that it took two men and a truck to cart it off to the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. The LPs were subsequently left to friends in England and France when the CD came along. Once more I embarked on collecting both serious music and jazz on the new format and have succumbed to the lure of downloading on the internet. At my age I have decided that this is my final contribution to the music industry, come what may. It's been a great ride. I just hope the Yankees will win another World Series this year. That's really where it all began for me. I can still name you every player at every position on the team from those glorious days when you could walk down Broadway and hear Mel Allen's voice coming out of every barber shop calling each pitch of every game from spring to autumn. That's what I remember about New York and my introduction to the great American way and the beginning of a lifelong passion for hearing live and collecting recorded music.

Kent England

I LOVE that personal story. Reminds me of how I used to shop for albums in the 70s: Laundromat upstairs, record store downstairs. Clothes spinning while flippin' the LPs in the bins and reading the liner notes looking for clues to more good jazz.


Thanks for the great story. Sonny Stitt was a great artist.


As usual for this site another great article. Sonny Stitt was a great one. I loved his later recordings on the Muse label.

Your story of your mis-spent yewth touched a common cord. My friends and I were taking the New Haven line to shop at such stores as Dayton's, King Carol's, Sam Goody's etc. And we always went to Colony Records but only too look. They were too expensive. Some people go to NYC for wine, women, and song. We went for vinyl.

And to the poster whose father played Sonny Stitt music as background for yard work: my pop did likewise but it was usually Franchi, Lanza and Sinatra. He wasn't a big Jazz fan, my dad.

I love this site.


I recall hearing decades ago that Sonny Stitt was the most recorded sax player of all time. Is this possible?


The Sensual Sound of Sonny Stitt is available on mp3 on amazon now!
No more paying $50 or more for an import.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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