Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|We Remember Bird Berlin London 1964|
Actors: Jr. Walter Bishop, J.J. Johnson, Tommy Potter, Kenny Clarke, Johnny Stitt
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Two American Masters
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two indisputable giants. The instrumental equivalents of Crosby and Sinatra. (How could any one of the four be missed by anyone who was alive in the last century?) You didn't need a video to understand why either was the unequaled master of his ax (make it 2 horns for Sonny). But seeing them in person helped in understanding their personalities, temperaments, struggles, moods. Both had tremendous wills and demanding work ethics. J. J. was orderly, consistent, immaculate; Sonny could frequently fall off the wagon, but he knew the price and paid it in time to make the next flight and the next job, without fail. He could be warm and friendly but equally irascible, short-tempered, and snarly. And it didn't matter if it was you or Miles that he was expressing his displeasure toward (he spent 6 months with Miles after Trane's departure, but would have none of Miles' modes or pronounced atonality). The '60s were schizophrenic for him. For a while, the B3 and the tenor (esp. when Don Patterson handled the former) played at their most "soulful" seemed like the answer. But then there was the regrettable "Selmer Varitone" period (about 4 years during the late '60s). Then a period when he would spit his mouthpiece out between phrases while rolling his eyes in his head and lifting his left knee, still managing to set up for the next phrase. In the '70s he ignored disco, Miles, fusion, electronics and went back to what he did best--bringing the alto back into his act, saying adieu to the Hammond, playing the lone gunslinger, going from town to town in search of rhythm sections and potential tin horns for a cutting contest. Finally, he went out near the top of his game.
Many don't get Sonny. He knew the American Songbook like Sinatra, and like his inspiration Art Tatum, he stuck to the melody--like Art, playing three of them all at once: the main one, the countermelodies, the linkages between phrases and choruses. Always (well, most of the time) with crispness, completeness, precision along with the truest, least cluttered and most embodied sound possible, enhanced by expressive articulations and dynamics. Sonny was quoted as saying you should "play simple, like Art Tatum, whose main idea was to entertain the people." I don't think he was being ironic.
There's a memorable moment when J. J. forgets that it's Sonny's turn to solo. Sonny just stares at him with a bemused look, until J. J. realizes his faux pas. Sonny's eyes seem to be saying, "Who are you kidding? I could just stand here silent and make more music than you guys." He's probably right."
rayjazz | las vegas, NV | 03/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We have here a great pair of performances from some great artists. With no reviews, I hesitated to get this one, glad I went ahead and dove in. The first set was recorded in Berlin and is of top shelf rendering in 1964. Panning around the stage, great well timed close ups, sharp and clean, this is great. The second set is of lesser quality in it's visual acuity, but the actual performance is way hotter in this less formal setting. You have the great Sonny Stitt and a rare chance to see and hear J. J. Johnson at their best. The entire crew is top notch, and in this second set Howard McGhee on trumpet, a name you don't see a lot of, really stands out here. The rest of the crew is Walter Bishop Jr. on piano, Tommy Potter on bass, and last but not least Kenny Clarke on drums. This is a must have addition to your library."