Edward "Sonny" Stitt: original voice or jazz imitator

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Sonny Stitt, (1924-1982), was an American jazz saxophonist active from 1941 until his death in 1982. There is a paucity of information written about Stitt's life and the music he created. Stitt was often cast as a clone of jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker, in both the popular press and academic sources. To date, just one academic document analyzes Stitt's approach to improvisation and that work is drawn from Stitt's performances as a tenor saxophonist. Additional research on Stitt is imperative to understand how the music known as bebop developed and to evaluate Stitt's role in jazz history. A comparison of the alto saxophone solos of both Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt will examine the development of Stitt as a jazz saxophonist and the extent of any musical influence Parker may have on Stitt. Three of the earliest recorded Parker solos and the two earliest Stitt solos, plus one solo from Stitt's mature oeuvre, were transcribed to compare and contrast the bebop styles employed by Stitt and Parker. Parker's solo "Honey and Body" dates from 1940. "Swingmatism" and "Hootie Blues" were recorded with Jay McShann and date from 1941. Two of Stitt's solos, "That's Earl Brother" and "Oop Bop Sh'Bam" date from 1946 and "Ray's Idea" was recorded in 1972. The analysis of these solos will include consideration of melody, harmony, timbre, and rhythm.

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