|Birth name||William Criss|
|Born||23 October 1927
|Died||19 November 1977
Los Angeles, California
|Instruments||Alto saxophone, soprano saxophone|
Criss had developed his own, concise, bluesy tone by this point, and though his basic style did not vary much, his ability on the instrument continued to develop. Nevertheless, he continued to drift from band to band, and played on some records with Johnny Otis, and Billy Eckstine.
His first major break came in 1947, on a number of jam sessions arranged by jazz impresario Norman Granz. In 1956 he signed to Imperial Records, based in New York, and recorded a series of "underground" classics namely, Jazz U.S.A , Go Man! and Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter featuring pianist Sonny Clark. Capitol, the masters' owners, reissued them as a 2CD set on their Blue Note imprint in October, 2000. Criss also recorded At the Crossroads, with Kind of Blue pianist Wynton Kelly.
Prestige signed him in 1965, and he continued to record well-acclaimed albums which were mainly rooted in hard bop traditions. The records produced during this period demonstrated his inventive play on the alto sax, and contributed to his growing national recognition. Although some of these albums marketed Criss as a survivor, Sonny's Dream was more substantial, featuring charts by Horace Tapscott. Later sessions were recorded for Muse and Impulse.
By 1977, Criss had developed stomach cancer and did not play again. As a consequence of this painful condition, Criss committed suicide (self-inflicted gunshot) in 1977 in his adopted city of Los Angeles.
As leader 
- California Bop (1947; Fresh Sound Records)
- Intermission Riff (1951; Pablo Records)
- Jazz USA (1956; Imperial Records)
- Go Man! (1956; Imperial Records)
- Criss Cross (1956; Imperial Records)
- Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter (Imperial, 1956)
- Mr. Blues Pour Flirter (Brunswick [France], 1963)
- This is Criss! (Prestige, 1966)
- Portrait of Sonny Criss (Prestige, 1967)
- Up, Up and Away (Prestige, 1967)
- The Beat Goes On! (Prestige 1968)
- Sonny's Dream (Birth of the New Cool) (Prestige, 1968)
- Rockin' in Rhythm (Prestige, 1968)
- I'll Catch the Sun! (Prestige, 1969)
- Crisscraft (Muse, 1975)
- Saturday Morning (Xanadu, 1975)
- Out of Nowhere (1976; Muse Records)
- Warm & Sonny (1976; Impulse! Records)
- The Joy of Sax (1977; Impulse! Records)