Sonny Stitt always said he was his own man and not merely a Charlie Parker soundalike. He proves this point in the finest tribute album to Bird ever. This is consummate playing of Parker’s best-known compositions with an all-star cast on rhythm section: John Lewis, piano; Jim Hall, guitar; Richard Davis, bass, and Connie Kay, drums. Stitt plays with ferocious virtuosity, setting fire after fire. This may be the most energizing bebop album of all time. Charlie Parker, a few weeks before he died, is said to have told Sonny “I’m leaving you the key to the kingdom” and there’s plenty of evidence for that on ‘Stitt Plays Bird’. Every track on this album, including the previously unreleased “Now’s The Time” and “Yardbird Suite,”, are strong.