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Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus

Reviewer rating
"As well as the fabulous music we get a selection of rare, eye-catching images from Francis Wolff that tell the story of each musician in action"

Simply titled – but it would catch the eye of any jazz connoisseur. This rich reissue is actually a double-CD compilation of four major albums by Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus, The Sound Of Sonny, Way Out West and Newk’s Time, all between the years of 1956-1957. The package includes a wealth of information about each album and a booklet presenting all original liner notes. 

As well as the fabulous music we get a selection of rare, eye-catching images from Francis Wolff that tell the story of each musician in action. The Jazz Images series thus pays homage to another art which helps convey the atmosphere of the time and provides powerful context – a nice touch and a key element in this reissue.

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As far as the music goes, Saxophone Colossus – an album that was recorded only four days before Clifford Brown and Richie Powell were tragically killed in a car accident – includes a favourite of mine, Blue Seven, with a captivating introduction on bass and Rollins exploring extended harmony in the chorus.

By this time, Sonny Rollins was known for taking unconventional songs and converting them into jazz treasures. Such an example is Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye on The Sound Of Sonny. Way Out West, meanwhile, was a landmark in an ensemble context, stripping out the usual piano and representing Rollins’ first album in a trio setting. That same year he was acclaimed New Star by Downbeat

The final album here is Newk’s Time, offering a variety of appealing heads and heavy solos. It has Rollins back in a quartet setting with some major players alongside him including Philly Joe Jones, who providing climactic flourishes in Wonderful! Wonderful! and The Surrey With The Fringe On Top.

Discography
CD1: [Saxophone Colossus] (1) Saint Thomas; You Don’t Know What Love Is; Strode Rode; Moritat; Blues 7; [The Sound Of Sonny] (2) The Last Time I Saw Paris; Just In Time; Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye; What Is There To Say?; Dearly Beloved; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; Cutie; It Could Happen To You; Mangoes (77.26)
CD2: [Way Out West] (3) I’m An Old Cowhand; Solitude; Come, Gone; Wagon Wheels; There Is No Greater Love; Way Out West; [Newk’s Time] (4) Tune Up; Asiatic Raes; Wonderful! Wonderful!; The Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Blues For Philly Joe; Namely You (77.34)

Rollins (ts) with:
(1) Tommy Flanagan (p); Doug Watkins (b); Max Roach (d). Hackensack, New Jersey, 22 June 1956.
(2) Sonny Clark (p); Percy Heath, Paul Chambers (b); Roy Haynes (d). New York, 11 & 19 June 1957.
(3) Ray Brown (b); Shelly Manne (d). Los Angeles, 7 March 1957.
(4) Wynton Kelly (p); Doug Watkins (b); Philly Joe Jones (d). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 22 September 1957.
Jazz Images 38114

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