Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, JJ Johnson “S.P.J” (1949-50)

Track Selections

1. Fine and Dandy (Take 1)

2. Blue Mode (Take 2)


J.J. Johnson (tb) Sonny Stitt (ts) John Lewis (p) Nelson Boyd (b) Max Roach (d) NYC, October 17, 1949

Sonny Stitt (ts) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d) NYC, December 11, 1949 and January 26, 1950


Stitt newly embarking on tenor to get out of the shadow of Parker’s alto, Bud Powell interpreting Parker on piano, and JJ being himself, all pushed along nicely by the guys who didn’t get their names on the front cover. Three minute tracks, as was customary, so the selection is one breakneck fast, one bluesy, but hard choice as they are all good.

The sheer artistry and virtuosity of Stitt and Powell particularly is astonishing, and their preoccupation of not being identified as a Parker copyist looks a little unnecessary from this distance.The influence of Jazz Critics of the day was not altogether benign.

Vinyl: Esquire 32-049, UK first release of Prestige 7024 (pictured)

Once again Esquire forsook the original rather cute cover for a graphics and type assemblage.

American original metalwork with the hallmarks –  hand-etched Van Gelder initials and Prestige catalogue number,and the now familiar AB marking (Abbey Pressing Plant?)  Where other record companies sent copy tapes (one generation removed from the original tape) to facilitate local re-mastering and pressing, Prestige sent sets of the original stampers, so with Esquire you are listening to vinyl of the same “generation” as the US original pressings.

Just when you think you have seen it all, up pops something never before seen – a second set of matrix codes XRARCX 39038 hastily altered to 39161, and a THIRD matrix code M6-0190050.  I’ve got a code for this, it is “WTF”?

Quite possibly the session recording dates in 1949/50 (“190050”?) had a previous master and, for continuity, RVG  remastered and retained the earlier source codes for reference.That was Prestige practice with second releases, where a new catalogue number was issued. Old matrix code crossed out and new code added. If you are following this you are ahead of me, and I’m writing it.

The recordings date from 1949-50, so the dynamic range captured by microphones of the day is not as good as it would be five years later. But the artistry of the players was not destined to last either. Bud Powell here is at the height of his powers, as is Stitt. It’s a trade-off, and an acceptable one.


spj-jazz-matrixcodes-1600_col spj-jazz-more-matrixcodes-1600_col


Collectors Corner

Source: eBay                                                                                                              Sellers grading: Vinyl: Ex Cover: Ex

An Ebay UK offering, which attracted a certain amount of interest as it is, to coin a phrase, “rare”. This was the only copy I had ever seen in three or four years, and in excellent condition due to not being played very much, so you have to put your hand up and say “Me, me, please Miss, me!

3 thoughts on “Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, JJ Johnson “S.P.J” (1949-50)

  1. not the players, all in their 20’s-30’s.
    they had to change reeds, piano and bass strings and, above all, drum skins.
    the energy musicians put on their instruments obliged to take a break, usually with liquors, girls or/and dope.
    but what a music!

  2. Excellent two tracks. Outside our office it rains cats and dogs, but inside everything in fact is “Fine and Dandy” so the weather won’t put us in a “Blue Mode” 😉

    From what I’ve learned over the years, is that a before the 12″ 33rpm record was introduced, recordings had to fit on one side of a 78rpm record, hence the characteristic three-minute length of all these older cuts.

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