Edward (Sonny) Stitt, 58, an alto saxophonist who was a prolific recording artist and a solo performer whose style resembled that of the late Charlie Parker, died of cancer July 22 at the Washington Hospital Center. A resident of the Washington area since 1959, he lived in Chillum at the time of his death.
When Mr. Stitt first met Parker, they jammed together in a Kansas City club. When the session was over, Parker said, "You sure sound like me." Mr. Stitt was just as surprised as Parker at the extraordinary similarity of their innovative styles.
The two alto sax players' final encounter took place a week before Parker died in 1955. They exchanged a few pleasantries and Parker said, "Man, I'm handing you the keys to the kingdom."
Mr. Stitt became an internationally respected soloist in the 1950s. He was featured on concert tours with Jazz at the Philharmonic and toured Britain in 1958.
In one of his numerous appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival, he performed in a leading role in a presentation billed as "The Musical Life of Charlie Parker." He also performed at a tribute to Duke Ellington in New Haven, Conn., in 1973.
He made dozens of albums, some with himself as leader and others with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Bud Powell and Gene Ammons. He was also featured in "Jazz on a Summer's Day," a 1958 film made at the Newport Festival.
Mr. Stitt, who was born in Boston, replaced Parker in the Gillespie combo in 1946. The following year he won the New Star award in the Esquire Jazz Poll. Narcotics problems kept him off the scene for three years before he began touring in a sax duo with Ammons.
Survivors include his wife, Pam, and two children.