Jazz CD Reviews
Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus/Worktime – Sonny Rollins – tenor sax; Doug Watkins/ George Morrow (Worktime) – bass; Max Roach – drums; Tommy Flanagan/Ray Bryant (Worktime) – piano – Essential Jazz Classics
Published on July 20, 2009
Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus/Worktime – Sonny Rollins – tenor sax; Doug Watkins/ George Morrow (Worktime) – bass; Max Roach – drums; Tommy Flanagan/Ray Bryant (Worktime) – piano – Essential Jazz Classics EJC55401, 73 minutes **** [Distr. by MVD]:
At first, I was pretty excited when I opened this new reissue of Saxophone Colossus – it appeared that there were multiple bonus tracks, and not just alternate takes from the same sessions. The reissue includes all the tracks from the album Worktime from about the same time period, when Sonny Rollins was a member of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, and was just beginning to step out on his own for solo dates. Four days after the tracks for Saxophone Colossus were laid down at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hackensack, New Jersey studio, both Clifford Brown and pianist Richie Powell were killed in an automobile accident, and Sonny Rollins would remain a headliner from that point on. These classic jazz albums have been reissued so many times now, it’s almost impossible to keep track of the available versions out there. Many of the Rudy Van Gelder recordings in that remarkably full-sounding fifties mono have been remastered over the last few years by none other than RVG himself, both the Blue Notes and Fantasy/OJCs. And although the packaging offers no information to confirm this, I’m absolutely certain from listening to the Saxophone Colossus tracks that they’re sourced from the same tapes. As best I can determine, the Worktime tapes haven’t yet been remastered for that series, but the sound quality here is really superb – Fantasy Records almost always did a great job in transferring all those old tapes to CD. So the package here is pretty appealing – you’re getting two classic jazz albums at a really great price.
Of course, the package contains the superb Ira Gitler original liner notes for both albums. The new RVG reissues also contain updated liner notes from Gitler as well, but this budget package skimps a bit in that area. The booklet is really nicely laid out, with a cool fifties vibe and some additional photos that didn’t make it into the original CD issues of these titles. I did notice one inconsistency – or is it a typo? The classic tune “Blue 7” is now listed as just “Blue” – I think someone must have been asleep at the wheel when the typography was done on this one! Regardless, very highly recommended – classic jazz doesn’t get much better than this.