I tend to think of Sonny Rollins in terms of his tenures with the various labels he has recorded for over the past almost 50 years. In the '50s it was Prestige, Blue Note, Riverside, and Contemporary. The saxophonist would then drop off the scene in the early '60s, followed by a brief stay with RCA Victor that was followed up with three albums for Impulse and then his lengthy and often disappointing stay with Milestone. Clearly, the RCA period was one of the finest of his career, yet is has also proven to be the one most difficult to collect thanks to RCA's hodge-podge approach to reissues (remember those Bluebird compilations with the ugly drawings on the covers from the '80s?)
Of course, if you're a Rollins nut then you'll have all the RCA recordings as collected on a recent boxed set. On the other hand, the task of collecting the individual albums has gotten easier with a new Classic Edition version of The Standard Sonny Rollins. While The Bridge has got to be the quintessential accomplishment of the period, this collection of standards is worthy of praise too. The cast assembled is sure to sound familiar- Herbie Hancock, Bob Cranshaw, Mickey Roker, and Jim Hall. Each standard is given a brief performance that basically gives us a solid dose of Rollins waxing rhapsodic, sometimes backed by just bass and drums, with guitar and piano added sparingly. Exceptions are two takes (one long and one short) of "Trav'lin' Light" with Hancock, Hall, bassists Teddy Smith and David Izenson, and drummer Stu Martin. Izenson's bowed work makes each one of the performances unique and beautiful.
Three additional performances from the same sessions that made up the original vinyl release are added, putting all this music under one roof for the first time on CD. It all adds up to a mighty package that contains small, but ample doses of undiluted Rollins. Enjoy!
Autumn Nocturne, Night and Day, Love Letters, My One and Only Love, Three Little Words, Trav'lin' Light, I'll Be Seeing You, My Ship, It Could Happen to You, Long Ago and Far Away, Winter Wonderland, When You Wish Upon a Star, Trav'lin' Light (alternate)Collective
Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Bob Cranshaw, Teddi Smith, David Izenson, bass; Jim Hall, guitar; Stu Martin, Mickey Roker, drums