Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sonny Rollins - On Impulse/There Will Never Be Another You (Impulse!, 1965; Verve Re-issue, 2011)

The great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins only recorded a few albums for the Impulse! label in the mid 1960's, and presented on this compilation is the On Impulse LP, plus a live album from the same year that was previously unreleased (in the U.S. at least.) The On Impulse album is almost a Sonny Rollins sampler platter, with the many of the aspects of his musical personality on fine display. It's a quartet album, with Rolllins being supported by Ray Bryant on piano, Walter Booker on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. "Hold 'em Joe," was the highlight of the album for me, a great calypso with powerful tenor saxophone and drums. "Blue Room" is a nice ballad featuring Rollins' immaculate articulation backed with fine brushwork from Roker. Fast paced bebop returns with "Three Little Words" which adds potent saxophone trading ideas with drums and a nice unaccompanied section for saxophone. We then shift to the live album (according to Last.fm recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965) with a lineup of Rollins on tenor saxophone, Tommy Flanagan on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, plus Billy Higgins joining Mickey Roker on drums. "On Green Dolphin Street" has a strong medium-up feel to it and features a great piano solo, before sax and drummers trade strong jabs. "Three Little Words" has live-wire saxophone and drums (mixed high, adding to the bootleg quality of the sound) but strong playing all around especially the ripe saxophone. "Mademoiselle de Paris" is drum heavy and bouncing and has unusual slurs of sax, then bass, setting the stage for "To a Wild Rose" which is a patient ballad. Mid-tempo swing, with nice elastic bass and piano and a soft ballad ending. The title track, "There Will Never Be Another You is an epic, beginning at a medium tempo with overly loud drums. After a rippling piano solo, Rollins enters with a solo of his own, deep & strong, before moving on to trade sax and drums ideas with the percussionists building deeply rhythmic phrases. Sonny steps away from the microphone for an a Capella solo before band rejoins for a strong conclusion. On Impulse! / There Will Never Be Another You - amazon.com

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