Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sonny Rollins - Moving Out (Prestige 1954, 2009)

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins may have been the penultimate musician (or at least soloist) of the 1950’s, reeling off classic after classic in the latter half of that decade. Rollins is a sub-genre of his own, referencing swing, bop, hard bop and free at different times, but never staying pigeon-holed in one place. Like only a few other greats in the music’s history, he transcends category and makes his own unique place. What is so interesting about this album is that we hear Rollins not completely formed, a few years away from his epochal 1957 records and still in thrall to bebop. The first four tracks on this disc bear this out, Rollins performing with Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Elmo Hope on piano, Percy Heath on bass and Art Blakey on drums roar through bop influenced blowing pieces with the spirit of Charlie Parker hovering not far away. “Moving Out” and “Swingin’ for Bumsy” are tricky up-tempo performances that are all the more impressive for the clear articulation by the musicians. The music is taught and not a note is wasted even at high speeds. “Silk ‘n’ Satin” is an early indication of the great ballad player Sonny Rollins would grow into. He caresses the melody and his solos are patient and thoughtful. He is not usually thought of as a composer, but Rollins has committed a few great originals to the canon of jazz and “Solid” is one of his most enduring. Taking on hard-bop’s bluesy soul and bending it to his own conception of jazz makes it one of the highlights of this recording. The remaining performance is from a different session several months later featuring the interesting combination of Rollins with pianist and composer Thelonious Monk along with Tommy Potter on bass and Art Taylor on drums. The lengthy performance of the oft-played standard focuses attention on the interplay between Rollins and Monk, and both respond with beautiful performances and solos. I thought this was a very interesting album, it is a fine example of Sonny Rollins as a maturing jazz musician right before his major breakthrough, and it also stands on its own as wonderful, timeless jazz.
Moving Out -

Send comments to Tim.