Sonny Rollins: Tour de Force (1956) Esquire (updated)


Selection: B Quick (Rollins)

(Update: Bonus track –  featuring Earl Coleman vocals)

My Ideal (Whiting)


Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Kenny Drew (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) Earl Coleman (vocals) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, December 7, 1956


Recorded the same year as Saxophone Collossus, Sonny gets a traffic ticket for speeding in charge of a saxophone. Two compostions, B Swift and B Quick showcase Sonny’s extraordinary finger-rapidity on the tenor. It is difficult however to account for Rollins decision to feature two vocal tracks with baritone crooner Earl Coleman here.Perhaps he was thinking of the pairing between a saxophone voice and a human voice. Whatever the reason he seems not to have repeated it, which tells you how successful he thought the idea.

Vinyl: Esquire 32-085, 1st UK release of Prestige PR 7126

Cover:  Over to LJC resident art critic and connoisseur of record sleeve design, Auguste Renoir de Meerkat, leading authority on semiology in pop-culture, who shares his critical insights:


Tour de Force Prestige cover” Ze Prestige original (right) makes a bold graphical statement about …err.. wooden frame shuttering, with…umm,  bits of wood, well planks … forced,  nailed together — umm…in what must be, as they say in France, un tour, obviously. Myself, I prefer the Esquire. I like Green, cheers me up. Prestige is an animal cage, isn’t it?”

All this from a young tenor-player who modestly described himself as a Saxophone Collossus. Fortunately for us, it was all true.

The vinyl carries an AB marking, pressed by Abbey Manufacturing, and RVG stamp.



Collectors Corner

Source: Collection of the late Brian Clark, founder of Lenco Heaven forum..

Initially I had reservations about the vocals on this album, but in a cheesy way, I quite like the Earl Coleman crooning, but only ironically. At the hairdressers the other day, the in-salon music system was also playing songs, from another crooner, Frank Sinatra: Come Fly With Me, a cultural signpost to 1960’s romance of travel, before everyone had been everywhere

…if you can use some exotic booze, there’s a bar in far Bombay…

Those lyrics are a perfect retro-Hollywood view of the world, much preferable to the real world. Rick’s café Americain, Casablanca. There was a time when people used to say “get real!” I say, we should be able to come up with something better than the real world, which in large measure, sucks.

LJC’s eBAY Tales: despatches from the collector’s front line


Shill-bidding: a cautionary tale

An Ebay auction on a low-value reissue closed today, which unfortunately I won, but which gave me an unexpected shock. From nowhere a snipe appeared which pushed the final price up fivefold. A quick search on the price-setting mystery bidder showed he had only ten bids in the last month – all with the same seller, 100%,  bidding with no-one or nothing else: a shill account.


Delving through the feedback history of the seller, this same “mystery bidder” had appeared repeatedly, stretching back over years, sometimes  ten wins the same day. Almost all the auctions they won from the seller were for nominal amounts, because they were auctions in which were no other bidders.


On this occasion because I sniped a proper bid, they appeared with a £24 bid, which bumped the final selling price for me to £25 instead of £5.The abuse of Ebay polices quickly became apparent. The seller was using a second account to place a hidden higher bid on each of their record auctions. If there were no other real bidders, the second account bid won, cost next to nothing. However if there was a serious real bidder, the second account hidden bid became price setter, ensuring the seller got  a high reserve price while avoiding Ebay reserve price charges. Cute.


Taking the hit, I resolved to go down fighting.

Ebay have an explicit policy against shill-bidding, and claim they have all sorts of algorithms to detect it, which of course they are obliged to keep secret.  They urge you to report suspicious activity, but if you try and raise suspicions through Ebay’s automated reporting systems, it is hopeless, there is no relevant item in their picklists, and it’s tempting to just write it off and give up. Easy life for them.

There is nothing you can find on Ebay online reporting to raise suspicion of a shill-biding set up, so I went to their online chat facility with customer service, which was a pleasant surprise.  A service agent quickly came on line, and over the space of a half dozen typed interchanges we nailed this seller.  He hadn’t hidden his tracks, instead leaving himself phoney feedback from a second account with a long track record of only bidding on his own auctions. He is toast.

An auction is a legal contract of sale and purchase, to which rules and policies apply. . A seller who rigs an auction to artificially increase the price is a fraudster. If you think you have been caught in a shill-bidding scam, I recommend you raise the case direct with Ebay customer support through the chat facility.  It is straightforward and is good for honest buyers and sellers in the long run.

Do you have any Ebay tales to tell? Feel free to share.

POSTSCRIPT (Feb 8, 2014)

One of the Rollins/ Earl Coleman vocal tracks uploaded in case anyone wants to experience the combination.This Esquire copy is in far from perfect condition, and for some reason both the vocal tracks have a few scratches and some background crackle.

My Ideal (vocals Earl Coleman)

I recommend approaching it as a period movie soundtrack, complete with authentic surface noise. Perhaps set in Rick’s café Americain.


15 thoughts on “Sonny Rollins: Tour de Force (1956) Esquire (updated)

  1. I passed on this recently because I have Sonny Boy 7207 on Blue Label Bergenfield and can’t yet stretch to the extravagance of multiple editions. I think the two super-quick tunes are an indispensable part of Rollins discography.

    • In the hands of Ebay, to investigate and I’ll see what if anything they do about him. It’s pretty obvious to me what he’s doing, but I guess they have to satisfy themselves first, not just on my say so. They seem pretty hard on people who have complaints against them. One bit of advice they gave me was that if I suspected a shill job I shouldn’t have paid the seller, but reported him instead. They are right of course but something to have learned – for next time.

      I get the impression EBay’s main concern is people selling illegal stolen or counterfeit goods, or not paying their Ebay fees. Record collectors are some way down the priority list.

  2. I miss eBay a little bit, but for now I am content between hunting on Discogs and pushing myself to actually get out in the real world and look for records. I was using eBay extensively the first year I was collecting, but I quickly became dissatisfied with the inaccuracies in which sellers describe their records. I would request full or partial refunds from time to time when something didn’t arrive as described, but because I wasn’t particularly cautionary in trying to only acquire records on the nicer wide of things, I must have done this too often, because eBay blocked my account. A lot of these times I would contact a seller, and they would IMMEDIATELY ISSUE A REFUND even though I had not suggested it yet. These sellers realize that they have not checked their items for groove wear, skips, etc. and because they probably cost them next to nothing I the first place, they take the hit.

    My last big batch of purchases that I made just as my account was about to be banned was a disaster…first of all, I won and received the records in the middle of a heat wave and many of them were warped when they arrived (won’t be ordering any records this summer…). A few had skips or relatively serious warps, and one of them arrived broken but I had no recourse at that point. It was some sort of wake up call that what I was doing was not smart, and luckily my purchase powers had been revoked anyhow.

    In the six months or so since then, I have found so, very nice stuff in shops and on a Discogs, although those have been few and far between. I’d like to get back on and bid on nice records…knowing what I know now, I’d rather pay $100 for a nice record every once in a while and lose a ton of auctions in between, than continue to pay $10 here $20 for records that may have issues.

    I now live at a different address, although my PayPal account is the same. I have called eBay but they say there is no petitioning or appealing my suspension. I don’t understand what I did that was so awful. Anyone know if I can create a new account?

    • I too find it better to pay a little more to a reputable dealer for a record I really want, than to waste time trying to save a few bucks here or there. The times I have paid the the lowest price has usually resulting in me getting a inferior record that resulted in me just buying the same record again…wasted time and money being a cheapo.

      • I would say the same as Herb. I would be ok with paying a little bit more to get a record that would hopefully (but w/ no guarantees) be in better shape. I will say that in my experience on Ebay that sellers have overall been very good at providing refunds in cases where I wanted to return a record or partial refunds where I disagreed with their record grading. Most of the times that I had a grading issue with a seller I usually was able to point out something that they may not have looked for – a skip towards the end of a side which they didn’t hear since they only playgraded a sample of the record and not the whole thing for example. Sometimes I would quote a bit of their grading from the description back to them and explain why that grading was not accurate, that usually seems to help my case. I’ve been very fortunate that sellers have been easy to work with though to be fair I am sure there are some cases I could have asked for a partial refund where it just let it go.

        No great Ebay lowlight stories to report at the moment. There was a seller that I bought a supposedly mint mono early Riverside pressing of “The Unique Thelonious Monk” from not that long ago. It was more of a lesson to myself since the seller was pretty new and didn’t have any feedback at the time of my purchase. Needless to say the record wasn’t pristine but it also wasn’t beat up either. My beef was more with the complete and utter lack of communication on the seller’s part about when the record would ship, tracking #, etc. that caused me to have to open a case against them. The record did finally arrive of course but hassles like these are making me hold off on more Ebay purchases for awhile or at least being more careful about who I choose to buy from. This shill bidding stuff does make me have to wonder how many of the auctions I won could actually have been set up like this though, pretty annoying….

  3. It is a tour de force indeed to find this album in an acceptable condition. The album has had a bad press: Sonny rushed it off as his contract with Prestige was coming to an end. I find harmany in the two opposites (ultra fast and ballads°. He meanders beautifully around Earl’s baritone. A bonus cut out in the re-issue 7207.

    • P.S. to make myself more clear. I meant by harmony, that the two extremes as recorded on this last session for Prestige, make it a satisfying and well balanced album. On 7207, this balance is gone through the elimination of the two vocal numbers. # 7207, by the way, was also issued on Esquire.

      • As an afterthought I have added a postscript, at the foot of the post – where else? – with one of the Earl Coleman tracks, so sample the combination of tenor and baritone voice. I must say it sounds better through PC speakers than I thought.

        • Earl Coleman is a matter of taste. If you like him – and I do – then I would also recommend listening to his Dial recordings with Charlie Parker (This Is Always, Dark Shadows).

    • I’d heartily agree with that. Makes you always have to ‘babysit’ auctions and expect them to turn from ‘green to red’ in the last few seconds most of the time. The worst feeling sometimes!

  4. One of my favourite Rollins albums. Never seen the Esquire version. Another good one to hunt down in the English version of Rollins Plays For Bird, which for once has a superior cover design to he Prestige original…..

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