Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sonny Rollins Complete RCA

In 1960 Sonny Rollins disappeared. He returned to the jazz scene in 1962 with his famous album The Bridge. Over the next two years he would record a series of albums for RCA. I have just acquired The Complete RCA Victor Recordings. I am just now sampling it, but my initial reaction is one of immense satisfaction. This is Rollins at his most troubled and melancholy, but it everything I have sampled so far suggests a deep attention to texture. Okay, Ornette Coleman was happening, and there are some reflections of that. But Rollins is back and he is back to stay.

I have listened to The Bridge for a long time, and I still can't quite get across it. There is greatness in it, to be sure, but it is a very conflicted work. Here are a couple of pieces from the larger collection that did that jazz thing to me.
Sonny Rollins/'Round Midnight/Now's The Time
Sonny Rollins (ts) Herbie Hancock Ron Carter (b) Roy McCurdy (d)
NYC, February 14, 1964

Sonny Rollins/Lover Man/Sonny Meets Hawk
Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins (ts) Paul Bley (p) Bob Cranshaw (b) Roy McCurdy (d)
NYC, July 15, 1963

This is one box set worth puttin' on the iPod.


  1. 'Round Midnight is simply fantastic. I, of course, zeroed right in on Ron Carter, who's playing on this is genius. What a wonderful recording.

  2. BIL: Carter is indeed great on that recording. So is Herbie Hancock. Likewise the combination of Hawkins, Rollins, and Paul Bley on Lover Man is something worth paying attention to.

    But you can't have enough brilliant versions of 'Round Midnight.'