Personnel: Russell Jacquet (trumpet); J.J. Johnson (trombone); Sonny Stitt (alto sax); Leo Parker (baritone sax); Sir Charles Thompson (piano); Al Lucas (bass); Shadow Wilson (drums)
Both sides were recorded at United Sound Studios, Detroit, in May or June, 1948.
The recordings were made for the Sensation label which was owned by Bernard Besman. The Billboard issue of June 19th 1948 carried an article on the purchase of 64 Sensation masters by King Records. The purchase included sides by Todd Rhodes, “Lord Nelson”, Milt Jackson and Russell Jacquet. “Suede Jacquet” / “Lion’s Roar” was released on King 4242 at the end of July or beginning of August 1948. The same record was also released on Sensation 8.
Russell Jacquet was the elder brother of tenor sax giant Illinois Jacquet, in whose band he played trumpet and contributed vocals from 1945 until 1953. During this period he also recorded occasionally as a band leader in his own right, beginning in Los Angeles in 1945 with a group which included Calvin Boze in its line-up.The session which produced “Suede Jacket” and Lion’s Roar” wasn’t the first time Russell had recorded in Detroit. In 1947 he recorded with Sonny Stitt and Sir Charles Thompson in a group led by Milt Jackson. In May / June 1948 three sessions featuring various line-ups were held by Sensation in Detroit. The first session was credited to “Lord Nelson and His Boppers”, in reality a group led by Sonny Stitt and Milt Jackson. The second session was by The Sonny Stitt Sextet which included Stitt, Milt Jackson, Russell Jacquet and Sir Charles Thompson.
The third session was credited to “Russell Jacquet and His All-Stars.” This was actually the Illinois Jacquet band minus Illinois, but with Sonny Stitt added. Two discs resulted from this session – “Suede Jacket” / “Lion’s Roar” and “Scamparoo” / “Relaxin’ With Randel” (King 4259 and Sensation 12).
“Suede Jacket” is a nice bop workout with solo space given to Stitt, Johnson, Parker, Jacquet and, very briefly, Thompson. “Lion’s Roar” is a rousing showcase for the big bad baritone sax of Leo Parker. This session was a reunion for half of the Unholy Four sax section of the bop-leaning Billy Eckstine big band, Sonny Stitt and Leo Parker both being former members, along with Dexter Gordon and John Jackson.Many thanks to El Enmascarado for putting the BeBop into the Wino with this 78 disc!
Sources - Bruyninckx Discography. Sleevenotes by Joop Visser to 4CD set on Proper, "Sonny Stitt - Sax O' Bebop." The May / June 1948 Sensation sessions are included in the set.