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Definitively Rollins

01 SEP 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI

The Definitive Sonny Rollins On Prestige, Riverside & Contemporary, one of three new double-disc titles in Concord's series capturing some of the most definitive jazz ever recorded, overviews Rollins' recordings for these three labels between 1951 and '58 (and simultaneously heralds Rollins' upcoming 80th birthday on Sept. 7).

You probably need little convincing that Sonny Rollins was, and remains, an incredibly talented, indispensable pillar of modern jazz. In case you do, dig Rollins' adventurous "without a net" playing in his epic trio Freedom Suite, his challenging re-invention of the old warhorse "I'm An Old Cowhand," or duking it out with a runaway 'Trane in their rampaging bout of Tenor Madness. I most enjoy Rollins' saxophone in different but equally distinguished company: Ruminating "In A Sentimental Mood" with the original Modern Jazz Quartet, for example, and rocking Monk's rhythmic teeter-totter "Bemsha Swing" from the composer's classic Brilliant Corners.

But three Rollins tunes from Miles Davis' historic Bags' Groove date make the saxophonist's compositional contributions to the jazz canon just as obvious. Rollins' funky shuffle "Doxy," highlighted by pianist Horace Silver's groovy blues; the slippery "Oleo"; and "Airegin," his Latin-tinged homage to Nigeria crowned by Davis' bright, quicksilver solo, were subsequently covered by Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader, Ron Carter, and many other keepers of the modern jazz flame.

Much of this source material remains available as standalone titles, including the landmark Saxophone Colossus in the RVG Remaster series, and Way Out West in the OJC Remasters series.

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    I'm An Old Cowhand

    Sonny Rollins, from Way Out West ...

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    In A Sentimental Mood

    Sonny Rollins & The Modern Jazz Quartet ...

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