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Sonny Rollins – The Sound of Sonny


Sonny Rollins was only 26 years old when he recorded this, his first Riverside album, but he was an eight-year veteran of the jazz big leagues. He had worked with Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Group, among others. His style, personal and eccentric but deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and in American popular song, made him the most talked-about young tenor saxophonist in the mid-1950s.


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SKU: Riverside RLP 12-241 (45) [2] Categories: , , , , , Tags: , ,


Like all great jazz improvisers, he communicated through his instrument in a way that made listeners feel he was speaking to them. The stories he told were delivered with energy, swing and wry good humor. He gave the layman a frame of reference by using familiar material like the standard songs here for explorations full of excitement and adventure. Supported by a blue-ribbon rhythm section, this is young Sonny Rollins at his best.

AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
A new phase in Sonny Rollins’ career began in 1957. He started what was at the time an almost blasphemous trend of recording for a number of different labels. His pioneering spirit yielded a few genre-defining albums, including this disc. His performances were also at a peak during 1957 as Down Beat magazine proclaimed him the Critics’ Poll winner under the category of “New Star” of the tenor saxophone. This newfound freedom can be heard throughout the innovations on The Sound of Sonny. Not only are Rollins’ fluid solos reaching newly obtained zeniths of melodic brilliance, but he has also begun experimenting with alterations in the personnel from tune to tune. Most evident on this platter is “The Last Time I Saw Paris” — which is piano-less — and most stunning of all is Rollins’ unaccompanied tenor solo performance on “It Could Happen to You.” Indeed, this rendering of the Jimmy Van Heusen standard is the highlight of the disc. That isn’t to say that the interaction between Sonny Clark (piano), Roy Haynes (drums), and bassists Percy Heath and Paul Chambers — who is featured on “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and “What Is There to Say” — is not top-shelf. Arguably, it is Rollins and Heath — the latter, incidentally, makes his East Coast debut on this album — who set the ambience for The Sound of Sonny. There is an instinctually pervasive nature as they weave into and back out of each other’s melody lines, only to emerge with a solo that liberates the structure of the mostly pop standards. This is a key component in understanding the multiplicities beginning to surface in Rollins’ highly underappreciated smooth bop style.


1. The Last Time I Saw Paris (Hammerstein-Kern)
2. Just In Time (Cahn-Styne)
3. Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Kahn-Erdman-Russo)
4. What Is There To Say? (Harburg-Duke)
5. Dearly Beloved (Mercer-Kern)
1. Every Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)
2. Cutie (Sonny Rollins)
3. It Could Happen To You (Burke-Van Heusen)
4. Mangoes (Wayne-Libbey)


Additional information

Weight 0.900 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm