Selection 1: Mangoes
Selection 2: It could Happen to You (unaccompanied solo)
Sonny Rollins (ts) Sonny Clark (p) Percy Heath/Paul Chambers (b) Roy Haynes (d) recorded Reeves Sound Studios, NYC, June 11, 12 &19, 1957
Rollins 1957 chronology: Sonny Rollins, Vol. 2; The Sound of Sonny; Newk’s Time. Sandwiched between two Blue Note classics, recorded for Riverside. After years locked into Prestige, Sonny refused to sign any further exclusive contracts with record labels.
1957 saw launch of the frozen pizza, and The Frisbee. Due to an unfortunate mix up, Domino’s deliver several million Frisbees with double cheese and extra topping, while thousands of Frisbee players were struck in the face by frozen pizza. Many dentists became millionaires overnight.
Sonny Delight: Sonny Rollins and Sonny Clark together, making this a notable outing in Rollins very large discography. Also notable for the appearance of Roy Haynes, Mr Snap Crackle. The variety of line ups – some with piano, some “piano-less”, and one a hitherto almost unknown format, the unaccompanied tenor solo, signalled the breakdown of traditional formats and Rollins willingness to experiment with the assumed components of his art.
The year 1957, Rollins, at the age of 26, was voted winner of Down Beat’s “New Star – tenor saxophone” award. Critic Whitney Balliett described Rollins tone as “bossy and demanding”, his chief influences, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker:
He extracted the muscle from Hawkins’ tone and left the velvet, lopped off Hawkins’ famous vibrato, and sharpened Hawkins’ method of melodic playing by making it parodic.
He learned Parker’s teeming disregard of bar lines, Parker’s way with rhythm (the oddly placed notes, the silences, the avalanches of thirty-second notes), and Parker’s trick of mixing surreal melodic passages with tumbling bursts of improvisation.
And over all this he superimposed a unique and witty garrulity that made his immensely long solos seem, paradoxically, like endless strings of epigrams.
Parodic? Is that a word? Garrulity? What does a string of epigrams sound like? Baffling. It may it pass muster among hipsters in Greenwich Village, but the Queens English it is not. It can’t be easy being a critic. Hold that – it’s pretty easy.
The real new star is of course the valve – based new microphone featured prominently on the cover.
Riverside UK 12-241 white label twin reels and mic, 1st UK release, pressing by Decca, New
Jersey Malden , 173 grams
Cover features the Neumann U47 microphone, one of the breakthoughs in audio sound recording quality
Collection of the late Brian Clark.
Rollins seems to me a bit like Art Blakey – you think may be you have all the Blakey/ Rollins you need, do you really need another? Yes, you need reminding that, however good every other tenor player is, Rollins is one of the true masters., a yardstick against which to judge the contribution of others.