The year 1956 marked a turning point for Sonny Rollins.
Out of the ashes of what had been a talented but troubled young tenor saxophonist, came a new Sonny Rollins, his purpose clarified and strengthened, his muse razor sharp and brimming with new visions. As a new member of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Organization, he was inspired as much by their spiritual consistency as their artistic integrity.
By his own admission, even as a jazz tadpole, Sonny Rollins possessed a brawny sound and a powerful rhythmic drive...but other elements were missing. With SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS, Sonny Rollins created a personal vision of the tenor saxophone and modern jazz brimming over with joy and conviction. SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS was a breakthrough recording, praised for its lyrical power, thematic logic, relentless swing and spontaneous invention.
Borrowing a page from his West Indian roots, Rollins' "St. Thomas" employed elements of Caribbean folk melodies and calypso rhythms to create an exotic, dancing tenor anthem--one of the most identifiable, beloved themes in all of jazz--driven along by Max Roach's melodic drumming, Tommy Flannagan's shimmering accompaniment, and the saxophonist's swaggering melodic invention. Rollins displayed fresh harmonic power and innovative methods of thematic develpment throughout SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS.
On the swinging starts and stops of "Strode Rode" and the dreamy blues cycles of "Blue 7," Rollins began his solos with simple melodic motifs, and orchestrated them into grand, elongated thematic statements--every note made meaningful by Rollins' extraordinary sense of development and intuitive musical architecture. In addition, his tenor timbre took on renewed vigor and complexity on two ballads: "Moritat" (our old friend "Mack The Knife") and his epic reading of "You Don't Know What Love Is."
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