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Sonny Stitt

Sonny Stitt
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Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Sonny Stitt, 2 Feb 1924 - 22 Jul 1982
1953 (printed 1998)
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Image: 30.5 × 40cm (12 × 15 3/4")
Sheet: 40.5 × 50.5cm (15 15/16 × 19 7/8")
Frame: 56.5 × 71.8 × 3.8 cm (22 1/4 × 28 1/4 × 1 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC
Object number
Exhibition Label
The playing style of alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt so closely resembled Charlie Parker’s that he was widely regarded as Parker’s principal imitator and even his inheritor. Insistent that he had developed his technique independent of Parker’s influence, Stitt eventually moved to the tenor saxophone in an effort to distinguish himself. He got his start performing with touring bands in the early 1940s and played briefly with Billy Eckstine’s formative bebop band before joining Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1946. Stitt made his first memorable recordings—including “Oop Bop Sh’Bam”—when he took Charlie Parker’s place in the sextet drawn from Gillespie’s larger group. He engaged in friendly “duels” while working intermittently (1949–55) with tenor saxophonist Gene Ammon and later toured with “Jazz at the Philharmonic” (1958–59). For the remainder of his career, Stitt moved easily from one ensemble to another, playing primarily in pickup groups or bands that he fronted.
El estilo interpretativo de Sonny Stitt en el saxofón alto se parecía tanto al de Charlie Parker que muchos lo consideraban el principal imitador de éste, e incluso su heredero. Sin embargo, Stitt insistía en que había desarrollado su técnica sin influencias de Parker, y con el tiempo optó por el saxofón tenor para tratar de diferenciarse. Stitt empezó su carrera en bandas itinerantes a principios de la década de 1940 y tocó brevemente con la seminal banda de bebop de Billy Eckstine antes de unirse a la big band de Dizzy Gillespie en 1946. Sus primeras grabaciones memorables —entre ellas “Oop Bop Sh’Bam”— datan de cuando reemplazó a Charlie Parker en el sexteto formado por músicos de la orquesta Gillespie. Colaboró a intervalos (1949–55) en “duelos” amistosos con el saxofonista tenor Gene Ammon y más tarde realizó giras con “Jazz at the Philharmonic” (1958–59). Durante el resto de su carrera, Stitt pasó con frecuencia de un conjunto a otro, tocando sobre todo en grupos o bandas ad hoc que él mismo dirigía.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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