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Sonny Criss

Alto saxophonist William "Sonny" Criss was an anomaly of the jazz musicians who came up during the bebop era. Criss moved to Los Angeles from Memphis at the age of 15, and at 19 played in Howard McGhee's band with Charlie Parker and Teddy Edwards. As was the norm for every alto player, Parker exerted a huge influence on Criss' playing. His beefy, earthy tone can be heard on a number of Savoy sessions beginning the next year. Criss drifted, playing in jazz and R&B groups, including those led by Johnny Otis, Billy Eckstine, and Stan Kenton. After joining Buddy Rich in 1956, Criss recorded Jazz U.S.A. for Imperial as a leader; it's one of the true underground classics of the hard bop era. Imperial -- mainly an R&B label specializing in New Orleans acts such as Fats Domino -- put no promotional push behind it. Nonetheless, he was able to cut two more sessions for the label: the excellent Go Man! and Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter. Still playing with Rich, Criss cut At the Crossroads while on tour in Chicago for the Peacock label; the set featured Wynton Kelly and was critically well received. The saxophonist continued to work, fronting his own band in Los Angeles and gigging with others for brief out-of-town jaunts. He signed with Prestige in 1965 and issued a host of fine recordings, This Is Criss! and Sonny's Dream among them. Criss also cut various sessions for Xanadu, Muse, and ABC/Impulse near the end of his life. He committed suicide in 1977 due to the painful consequences of stomach cancer. His fine Crisscraft and Out of Nowhere albums were reissued on CDs, as were his complete Imperial recordings. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi
full bio

Comments

colbarbkranz 5
Help! Tell me that this ARTIST is still ~ making his sounds! (No bad news please)..
ejbplaywrigh t
First heard him on a Hampton Hawes album, then listened to his Black Coffee. For my money, the greatest blues saxophonist who ever lived. He makes me weep.
Love Sonny Criss. Great tone, clever ideas, and he swung so hard.
Never heard of Criss, One Track from "This is Criss" has me Hooked. Sometimes Exposure is a Good Thing
Very nice man, had a chance to speak to him on a couple of occasions, because of my dad. Wonderful artist.
beautiful... h a v e n ' t heard Sonny for years...than k s , Pandora!
Thank you, FB,...nobody exposes 'em like you do!
jomopho
SUNNY CRISS his notes are as crisp as his name.and has a rightful place in great alto saxophonist all time legends.in my opinion.
jomopho
Fantastic alto saxophonist, hands down, god bless him.
khailey731
His only album I had, had the version of "The Way We Were" on it I have treasured him since 1977 thru 2009
great sax player. looking for west coast blues.
THIS WAS A BAD MAN ON THE SAX THAT IS !
A very soulful artist who left his mark on the jazz world more than another bird imitater!

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