Monday, January 30, 2017

Sonny Rollins - Newk's Time

In his early prime and well-respected, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins cut this fine hard bop date as one of several late-'50s sessions for Blue Note. The record is part classic date, part blowing session, sporting a mix of engaging head statements and lengthy solos. Rollins takes to the spacious quartet setting, stretching out on taut versions of Miles Davis' '50s concert opener "Tune Up" and Kenny Dorham's "Asiatic Raes." Keeping the swing hard but supple are drummer Philly Joe Jones, bassist Doug Watkins, and pianist Wynton Kelly; Jones  was certainly the standout in this well-respected sampling of the best young players of the period, as he oftentimes matched the intensity and ingenuity of the star soloists he backed. Jones, in fact, puts in some career highlights on "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," just two of many wholly unique Tin Pan Alley song interpretations Rollins has done in his long career. From a career-defining period before the legendary Williamsburg Bridge layoff of two years, Rollins' Newk's Time may not make classic status in jazz roundups, but it certainly is a must for fans of this most important of classic hard bop soloists. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Newk's Time
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note (1990)
Runtime: 34:41

1.  Tune Up (Miles Davis) 5:49
2.  Asiatic Raes (Kenny Dorham) 6:01
3.  Wonderful! Wonderful! (Sherman Edwards/Ben Raleigh) 6:05
4.  The Surrey With the Fringe on Top (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) 6:35
5.  Blues for Philly Joe (Sonny Rollins) 6:49
6.  Namely You (Gene DePaul/Johnny Mercer) 3:19

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Wynton Kelly (Piano)
Doug Watkins (Double Bass)
Philly Joe Jones (Drums)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sonny Rollins - A Night at the Village Vanguard

Sonny Rollins, one of jazz's great tenors, is heard here at his peak with a pair of piano-less trios (either Wilbur Ware or Donald Bailey on bass and Elvin Jones or Pete La Roca on drums) stretching out on particularly creative versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," "Sonnymoon for Two," and "A Night in Tunisia," among others. Not only did Rollins have a very distinctive sound but his use of time, his sly wit, and his boppish but unpredictable style were completely his own by 1957. Truly magical. [Originally released as separate albums, A Night at the Village Vanguard has also been reissued in its entirety, complete with alternate takes.] - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The recording that resulted documents two shows in the afternoon and evening of November 3, 1957. Rollins employed different bands for the two shows. The afternoon show sported Donald Bailey on bass and Pete (La Roca) Sims on drums and the only contribution to the whole by this band is the opening "Night in Tunisia." The remainder of the recording is all Wilbur Ware on Bass and Elvin Jones on Drums. the recently released rudy Van Gelder Edition is superior to all previous releases of this material. Included here is all of the pre-song banter showing a 27 year old Rollins wowing his crowd. Also, previously edited material is restored and situated in chronologic order. All of this is dryly technical, but the music is not. This is virile and daring music performed with the hubris of youth and genius. The nakedness of the Tenor Trio is justly daunting. But, to masters of this ilk, the trio format offers that additional dimension of creativity— finding what is important in melody and harmony. Charlie Parker is barely in the grave two years befor these sides were cut. "A Night in Tunisia," "Woody 'N' You," and "I Can't Get Started" sound fresh and new. Rollins's tenor was always larger than life in a most attractive way, unlike Coltrane. His tone was full and sexy and rough and exciting on this evening in November, 1957, and so was his genius. - by Michael Bailey,

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: A Night At The Village Vanguard
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note Records (1999, RVG Renmastered)
Runtime: 131:56

1.  A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 8:16
2.  I've Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter) 10:03
3.  A Night in Tunisia (Evening Take) (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 9:03
4.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 6:43
5.  Four (Miles Davis) 8:26
6.  Introduction 0:20
7.  Woody 'n' You (Dizzy Gillespie) 8:29
8.  Introduction 0:36
9.  Old Devil Moon (E.Y. "Yip" Harburg/Burton Lane)  8:21
10.  What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter) 14:03
11.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 8:03
12.  Sonnymoon For Two (Sonny Rollins) 8:46
13.  I Can't Get Started (Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin) 4:54
14.  I'll Remember April (Gene DePaul/Patricia Johnston/Don Raye) 9:20
15.  Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 9:08
16.  Striver's Row (Sonny Rollins) 5:59
17.  All The Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern) 6:46
18.  Get Happy (Short Version) (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 4:40

Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Elvin Jones (Drums) - 2-18
Wilbur Ware (Double Bass) - 2-18
Donald Bailey (Double Bass) - 1
Pete La Roca (Drums) - 1

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Steve Coleman - Myths, Modes and Means

One of a trio of RCA CDs taken from altoist Steve Coleman's week at Paris's Hot Brass Club, three of the six performances on this set ("Finger of God," "Song of the Beginnings" and "Transits") are over 19 minutes long, and, with the exception of a rap on "The Initiate" and one during the last part of "Song of the Beginnings," this is a jazz set. On "Finger of God," Yassir Chadly's spiritual chant is followed by some intense Coleman alto over a drone by the keyboards. Other selections feature passionate free funk with plenty of Coleman alto and Ralph Alessi trumpet solos; Vijay Iyer's spooky keyboards and Miya Masaoka's koto are assets in the ensembles. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Steve Coleman and the Mystic Rhythm Society
Album: Myths, Modes And Means
Year: 1995
Label: RCA Records
Runtime: 75:40

1.  Mystic Dub 2:06
2.  Finger of God 24:37
3.  The Initiate 3:50
4.  Madras 3:43
5.  Song of the Beginnings 19:16
6.  Numerology 1:42
7.  Transits 20:23
All compositions by Steve Coleman

Steve Coleman (Alto Saxophone)
Ralph Alessi (Trumpet)
Andy Milne (Piano and Keyboards)
Reggie Washington (Bass)
Gene Lake (Drums)
Vijay Iyer (Keyboards)
Miya Masaoka (Koto)
Josh Jones (Percussion)
Ramesh Shotham (Percussion)
Yassir Chadly (Vocals and Percussion)


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