Sonny Rollins - tenor saxophone with various groups including Coleman
Hawkins - tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock and Paul Bley - piano, Don
Cherry - trumpet, Jim Hall - guitar, Bob Cranshaw - bass, Candido
Recorded 1962 - 1964.
1. St. Thomas
2. Four ( Alternate )
3. Long Ago And Far Away
4. All The Things You Are
5. The Bridge
6. God Bless The Child
7. Dearly Beloved
8. Blue'n' Boogie
10. Don't Stop The Carnival
Sonny Rollins is reputed to have had a big money
contract with RCA during the early 1960's and the this disc is a representative
selection from the albums he recorded at this time. Rollins has since
stated that it might have been a good contract for a Jazz artist but
that it was hardly comparable to the type of deal experienced by the
performers in the "Pop" world. He was also rumoured to have had unlimited
time and access to the studios but this has been rather negated by
later statements. These sessions occurred after Rollins had absented
himself from the scene for about two years to redefine his playing
and to bring his personal life under control.
The music contained here is amongst the most experimental
and rewarding of the artist's career. It was perhaps not perceived
in this way by many of his followers at the time of its release, they
were more accustomed to the hard-driving post-bop of his earlier years,
but Rollins obviously felt the need for greater experimentation, possibly
driven by contemporaries such as John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.
His playing on these selections is far more varied dynamically and
in terms of his melodic ideas and sense of rhythm and tempo. His tone
has not altered greatly at this time and is still quite hard and attacking,
but there is now more variety in the way he bends and distorts notes.
The items from "The Bridge" which feature Jim Hall
on guitar ( 5&6 ) are particularly fine examples of Rollin's music
from this period - the title track is interesting with its gradual
morphing of the time in both the theme statement and during the solos.
The tune itself is yet another variation on the " I Got Rhythm" sequence.
" All The Things You Are " comes from the album with Coleman Hawkins
and it almost feels as if Rollins is intentionally oblique in his
delivery in order not to clash with the mighty swing of one of his
heroes. " Don't Stop The Carnival" is a real oddity with the use of
the celestial choir on the theme -it is pieces like this which lead
me to believe that perhaps Rollins did not have quite the artistic
freedom that some sources would lead one to understand. Nevertheless,
the saxophonist's performances on this compilation are superbly compelling
throughout and if the listener does not intend to purchase all of
the original albums this is an absolute Jazz essential.