Is there a little tension between Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt at the beginning of this concert? Does Dizzy tell Stitt to back off during his solo on the opener, “Blues After Dark”? See for yourself, though I’m sure you’ll agree that if there was tension, it doesn’t intrude on the music at all. Indeed, by the second round, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” Diz and Stitt are all smiles singing the Jimmy McHugh-Dorothy Fields standard which Gillespie had recorded at least twice by this time. The set continues with solo features for the principals, Stitt on “Lover Man,” Gillespie on “Cocktails for Two,” then it’s off to the races for the closing “Blues Walk,” the Stitt-Gene Ammons original that’s often mis-credited to Clifford Brown.
Stitt’s 90th birthday anniversary was February 2. He worked with Gillespie in the mid-40’s, made a few legendary sessions with him in the mid-50’s; and appeared on numerous tours with the trumpeter. I saw them together at Boston College in 1972 when they were touring as the aptly-named Giants of Jazz.
Sit back and enjoy this beautifully filmed performance which features pianist Lou Levy, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Gus Johnson. The You Tube file includes a second concert by Gillespie; the opener with Stitt lasts a half-hour.