Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State
Stitt is, to me anyway, one of those “always the bridesmaid never the bride” types of players. I’m not really knowledgeable enough about his output to say that with any authority, but I have never heard anyone talking about “Sonny Stitt’s great record, _____________.” That’s not to say that the guy doesn’t have chops, or that he’s just a lesser copycat of other players, although between his switch to tenor saxophone and his forays into more “soulful” music, his story causes those kinds of thoughts to bubble up.
Nowhere on this LP does it list the recording date, who the other players are, whether Sonny is playing alto or tenor (I hear mostly alto but it can be hard to tell at times)…very odd. I have a feeling this could be a compilation of some 10 inch releases, but I have a hard time finding any information about this LP. The little bit I have found out about the Royal Roost label and its various label colors/formats does date this around 1960, but by then, this music is pretty far off the path of what was going on in jazz. Think of all the seminal records that were recorded by the time that year came around, and put that together with the get-in-get-out way that these tunes are handled, and it seems like something that could have been recorded more than 10 years earlier (not unlike the record Stitt did on Prestige with J.J. Johnson and Bud Powell, which was reissued under a different title…in 1962…case in point.)
This LP is exactly what the title suggests: mostly sunny with a flew clouds of blues, nothing at a particularly breakneck tempo. Very pleasant but not easy listening in the least – Stitt doesn’t shine…rather, he glows soft and strong. It’s very interesting to have heard this soon after visiting with Tenor Madness to hear the difference that I wish to articulate with Stitt and a more prominent saxophonist: while Stitt displays chops, Sonny Rollins displays command – not of the saxophone per say, but of the role of the front man, the lone horn in front of the rhythm section.
This was one of the first mono LPs I acquired when I first started collecting earlier pressings of jazz, and it was in better condition than quite a few of the LPs I purchased at that time. It sounds nice overall – Sonny plays relaxed and somewhat quietly, letting things pop at the right time with the nice clarity that vinyl records give you. I’m happy to have it and am even more motivated to find the other title on Royal Roost records that I’ve been interested in for some time, Diz ‘n’ Bird in Concert (Roost LP 2234).