Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sonny Rollins – The Freelance Years, Disc Two (Riverside, 2000)

The second disc of this set picks up with more tracks from the wonderful album Way Out West, recorded with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne in March of 1957. Included is a beautiful version of the Duke Ellington standard “Solitude” with Sonny patiently stating the melody before expanding and adding his impressions. After that are alternate takes including unreleased versions of “I'm an Old Cowhand” and “Way Out West.” It is hard to think of these as outtakes, because they are just as good as the originals, with Rollins' muscular tenor saxophone and the tight rhythm team making excellent headway in all of the music. This disc is rounded out with selections from trumpeter Kenny Dorham's album Jazz Contrasts which featured Rollins as a sideman along with Hank Jones on piano, Oscar Pettiford on bass and Max Roach on drums. “Falling In Love With Love” has a mild tempo allowing for a lyrical and introspective solo from Sonny. “My Old Flame” adds a a harpist to enhance the ballad feel with thoughtful solos all around.

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