The following recordings represent stations in the mid-50s...-as vital a period in Sonny Rollins' career as any as much of his reputation was built upon this period. The earliest of the two finds Rollins wondering whether he could perform after kicking his heroin habit, signalling his return to the jazz scene after rehab; the latter has the saxophonist fully pursuing his musical beliefs, with his previous fears already allayed.
Worktime has bassist George Morrow, drummer Max Roach and pianist Ray Bryant accompanying a revitalized Rollins. Although much has been made of Roach's playing in this recording...and rightly so...both Bryant and Morrow hold their own in fine fashion too. Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me becomes a swift hard-bop medium for Bryant, Rollins and Roach's superbly timed, executed and conceived soli. The leader, however, evidences a superior sound, technique, and attack unimpeded by its velocity. Roach's cymbal ride is infectious nonetheless. The date, with the exception of "There Are Such Things, is cooking. Indeed, the aforementioned is truly exceptional. In the most extended cut, Rollins sounds larger than life infusing romance with sensual tonal and harmonious rhythmic strength as he expounds on the melody. He could have played this one all by himself and probably attain similar results. Bryant and Morrow, however, also get a few bars of their own whereupon they complement the leader's outstanding performance. As Rollins says at its outset: "Okay fellows...
The Sound of Sonny
The remastered The Sound of Sonny differs in many respects from Worktime. It is less heated...although plenty hot as in "Just in Time. The rhythmic interplay is smoother-sounding and played. Rollins level of comfort seems higher too, although there also seems to be a lesser sense of immediacy or urgency to his performances. This time, Percy Heath and Paul Chambers were the bassists, Roy Haynes was on drums and the pianist was Sonny Clark. The latter has a greater role in this production than Bryant had in the previous one. Check out his performance in "What is There to Say? along with that of Chambers. They both manage to walk the walk in rather uncharacteristic ways till the exquisite tonguing coda by Rollins. The saxophonist blows with plenty of broad and deep sounding swing in "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye, and "Dearly Beloved. Rollins' sound was...and is...all his... then and now.
The Jazz Journalists Association has nominated The Colossus for an award this year.
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Tracks: 1. There's No Business Like Show Business (I. Berlin) 2. Paradox (S. Rollins) 3. Raincheck (B. Strayhorn) 4. There Are Such Things (Meyer-Adams-Baer) 5. It's All Right With Me (C. Porter)
Personnel: George Morrow (bass); Max Roach(drums); Ray Bryant (piano); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone)
The Sound of Sonny
Tracks: 1. The Last Time I Saw Paris (Kern-Hammerstein) 2. Just in Time (Comden-Green-Styne) 3. Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Kahn-Erdman-Fiorito-King) 4. What Is There to Say? (Duke-Harburg) 5. Dearly Beloved (Kern-Mercer) 6. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (C. Porter) 7. Cutie (S. Rollins) 8. It Could Happen to You (Burke-Van Heusen) 9. Mangoes (Wayne-Libbey) 10. Funky Hotel Blues (S. Rollins)
Personnel: Paul Chambers (bass on 1,4,10); Percy Heath (bass on all others); Roy Haynes (drums); Sonny Clark (piano); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone)