270

Sonny Rollins: The Freelance Years: The Complete Riverside and Contemporary Recordings

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
If Sonny Rollins is the King of the Tenor Saxophone, it was during the late Fifties, the period covered by this magnificent collection, that he earned his crown. He casts a long shadow on the cover of this five-disc set, and his shadow grows even longer immediately as the music starts, which Monk's treacherous tempo-shifting "Brilliant Corners," as good an example as any of both Monk's right-on off-kilter composing genius and Sonny Rollins' astounding acumen in navigating his tricky scores.

And for Sonny, that was just the beginning. This disc contains the sessions for his landmark trio album Way Out West, on which he takes a few Western chestnuts ("I'm an Old Cowhand," "Wagon Wheels") and transforms them into furious hard bop excursions, dominating the landscape with the fire and precision and sheer size of his tenor sound. Even with tongue in cheek Sonny is the fastest, fleetest, most lyrical and improvisationally inventive draw in the West.

Then there are a couple of sessions, one led by trumpeter Kenny Dorham and one by vocalist Abbey Lincoln, on which Sonny is surrounded by mere mortals but loses none of his superlative and dominating presence, while fitting seamlessly into the musical scheme of the moment.

The highlight of these five discs, however, (after "Brilliant Corners"), is "The Freedom Suite," the groundbreaking twenty-minute series of thematic excursions that Sonny recorded before twenty-minute suites were cool. What's amazing about the suite - and about his playing throughout these five discs - is the absolute control of Sonny's playing, in the moment. Without premeditation, with nothing more to serve as a map than a harmonic structure, Sonny Rollins was able to produce sheer magic, again and again. Here are five discs of that magic.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Mount Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Mount Meander
by John Sharpe
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Voyager" CD/LP/Track Review Voyager
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Bactrian" CD/LP/Track Review Bactrian
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 7, 2016
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Mo' Puddin'" CD/LP/Track Review Mo' Puddin'
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!