Sonny Stitt and Paul Gonsalves – Salt and Pepper (1963/2011) DSF DSD64

Sonny Stitt and Paul Gonsalves – Salt and Pepper (1963/2011)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 35:42 minutes | 1,41 GB | Genre: Jazz
Source: ISO SACD | ©  Impulse! Records

This record starts off with one of the underrated gems of the 1960s, an exciting matchup by tenors Sonny Stitt and Paul Gonsalves. This is very much a jam session set, with “Salt And Pepper” being a heated medium-tempo blues and the two competitive tenors stretching out on “S’posin'” and a lengthy “Perdido.” Actually, the most memorable selection from the date is the one on which Stitt switches to alto, “Stardust.” His beautiful playing behind Gonsalves’ warm melody statement raises the session to the classic level. Highly recommended to bebop and straight-ahead jazz fans.

This 1963 Stitt-Gonsalves encounter should be better known than it is. Stitt, of course, was one of the most prolific recording artists in jazz (nine albums in 1963 alone!), while Gonsalves although heard widely with Duke Ellington infrequently recorded as a leader. On tenor, as on this track, Stitt combined Charlie Parker and Lester Young influences, whereas Gonsalves came more out of the Coleman Hawkins school, with a “modern” harmonic approach that once led Dizzy Gillespie to hire him. Their contrasting styles and combative natures make for absorbing listening on the spirited title cut.

The extended blues workout “Salt and Pepper” starts with the two tenors enthusiastically alternating fragments of the theme. Gonsalves then embarks on a solo that lasts a mere 13 choruses, just about half the 27 he so famously played with Ellington at Newport in 1956 during “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.” His phrases here are reminiscent of the memorable ones he played at Newport seven years earlier, as Osie Johnson maintains a driving beat similar to Sam Woodyard’s back then. As usual, Gonsalves tone and inflections have a teasingly dissonant tinge, and his extended runs are refreshingly unpredictable but always, in hindsight, logically formulated. Stitt follows with 15 choruses of his own, replete with rhythmically ebullient lines, trademark riffs, toying pianissimo passages, and gruff shouts. However, Stitt seems to lose momentum midway through his improv, and Johnson drags noticeably in response. When Gonsalves returns for a trading session with Stitt, his sharp instincts and gift for spontaneous formulations appears to put even Stitt on the defensive. Gonsalves is the provoker during most of this section, with Stitt surprisingly the reactor. There’s a good reason why Ellington stuck by Gonsalves through thick and thin for 24 years, and it’s quite evident once again in the saxophonist’s inspired playing on this track. –Scott Albin


1 Salt And Pepper 7:40
2 S’Posin’ 6:09
3 Theme From Lord Of The Flies 2:20
4 Perdido 12:17
5 Stardust 5:55

Sonny Stitt, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Paul Gonsalves, tenor saxophone
Milt Hinton, bass
Osie Johnson, drums
Hank Jones, piano
Al Lucas, bass

Recorded: September 5, 1963 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


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