Monday, September 28, 2009
Sonny ROLLINS - Saxophone Colossus 1956
Recorded at: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey 1956
Audio CD (March 21, 2006)
The year 1956 marked a turning point for Sonny Rollins. Out of the ashes of what had been a talented but troubled young tenor saxophonist, came a new Sonny Rollins, his purpose clarified and strengthened, his muse razor sharp and brimming with new visions. As a new member of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Organization, he was inspired as much by their spiritual consistency as their artistic integrity. By his own admission, even as a jazz tadpole, Sonny Rollins possessed a brawny sound and a powerful rhythmic drive...but other elements were missing.
With SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS, Sonny Rollins created a personal vision of the tenor saxophone and modern jazz brimming over with joy and conviction. SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS was a breakthrough recording, praised for its lyrical power, thematic logic, relentless swing and spontaneous invention. Borrowing a page from his West Indian roots, Rollins' "St. Thomas" employed elements of Caribbean folk melodies and calypso rhythms to create an exotic, dancing tenor anthem--one of the most identifiable, beloved themes in all of jazz--driven along by Max Roach's melodic drumming, Tommy Flannagan's shimmering accompaniment, and the saxophonist's swaggering melodic invention.
Rollins displayed fresh harmonic power and innovative methods of thematic develpment throughout SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS. On the swinging starts and stops of "Strode Rode" and the dreamy blues cycles of "Blue 7," Rollins began his solos with simple melodic motifs, and orchestrated them into grand, elongated thematic statements--every note made meaningful by Rollins' extraordinary sense of development and intuitive musical architecture. In addition, his tenor timbre took on renewed vigor and complexity on.
Sonny Rollins recorded many memorable sessions during 1954-1958, but Saxophone Colossus is arguably his finest all-around set. Joined by pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Max Roach, Rollins debuts and performs the definitive version of "St. Thomas," tears into the chord changes of "Mack the Knife" (here called "Moritat"), introduces "Strode Rode," is lyrical on "You Don't Know What Love Is," and constructs a solo on "Blue Seven" that practically defines his style. Essential music that, as with all of Rollins' Prestige recordings, has also been reissued as part of a huge "complete" box set; listeners with a tight budget are advised to pick up this single disc and be amazed.
By Scott Yanow.
Though he lacked the improvisational fire of John Coltrane or the restless curiosity of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins played with a rich, round tone that complemented his melodic inclinations, making him the most accessible of the postbop musicians. Saxophone Colossus is the most successful of the late 1950s albums that made his reputation. Rollins's playing never falters; he's backed by the redoubtable Max Roach on drums, Tommy Flanagan on piano, and Doug Watkins on bass. Rollins is equally at home with the lilting Caribbean air of "St. Thomas," standards ("You Don't Know What Love Is"), blues ("Strode Rode," featuring a driving Flanagan solo), and a smoldering version of Brecht-Weill's "Moritat" (better known as "Mac the Knife"). If you are new to jazz, there is no better place to start than Saxophone Colossus.
By Steven Mirkin.
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone);
Tommy Flanagan (Piano);
Doug Watkins (Upright Bass);
Max Roach (Drums).
01. St. Thomas Rollins 6:48
02. You Don't Know What Love Is DePaul, Raye 6:31
03. Strode Rode Rollins 5:19
04. Moritat Brecht, Weill 10:05
05. Blue 7 Rollins 11:17