“I was the engineer on the recording sessions and I also made the masters for the original LP issues of these albums. Since the advent of the CD, other people have been making the masters. Mastering is the final step in the process of creating the sound of the finished product. Now, thanks to the folks at the Concord Music Group who have given me the opportunity to remaster these albums, I can present my versions of the music on CD using modern technology. I remember the sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound, and I remember their reactions to the playbacks. Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger.” — Rudy Van Gelder
…Essential music that, as with all of Rollins' Prestige recordings, has also been reissued as part of a huge "complete" box set; listeners with a tight budget are advised to pick up this single disc and be amazed.
Sonny Rollins’s Saxophone Colossus, consistently included on lists of the greatest jazz albums, showcases virtually every brilliant aspect of his complex musical personality.
Rollins fronted a foursome including Tommy Flanagan, the consummate accompanist and an always-engaging piano soloist, Doug Watkins, one the supreme time-players of his day, and drummer Max Roach, whose radar-eared work was nothing short of miraculous. Though by the mid-1950s he was considered the up-and-coming young tenor man, Rollins (b. 1930) hit his stride as never before, forging such epochal performances as his signature calypso “St. Thomas” (in its debut recording), the sardonically witty “Moritat” (aka “Mack the Knife”), and especially the original minor-key blues opus “Blue 7,” wherein Rollins’s “thematic improvisation” came to the fore.
As the tenor sax is not in the same key as an alto, Sonny Rollins would have to transpose a lot of music to take a tribute to Charlie Parker to a high level. Instead Rollins has chosen standards associated with Parker, and recorded them within a year after Bird's passing. This idea poses some peculiar challenges, added on to the fact that the quintet of Rollins starts the proceedings with a 27-minute medley of seven tunes seamlessly stitched together. Pianist Wade Legge, an unsung hero of jazz in the '50s for sure, plays some wonderful music here, and laces the grooves of the tunes together, while bassist George Morrow and the always exceptional drummer Max Roach keep things moving forward.
This disc contains an all-star cast headed up by Thelonious Monk (piano) and includes some collaborative efforts with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax) that go beyond simply inspired and into a realm of musical telepathy. The five tunes included on Work are derived from three separate sessions held between November of 1953 and September of the following year. As is often the case, this likewise means that there are three distinct groups of musicians featured.
The collaborations between Sonny Rollins and any given trumpet player were few and far between, but they did include such notables as Miles Davis, Don Cherry, Clifford Brown, and in this case, his first tandem partnership with Kenny Dorham. At the time, both of them were also members of the Max Roach Quintet, and thus quite familiar with each other's strengths. Add to the mix drummer Art Blakey, bassist Percy Heath, and emerging modern jazz pianist Elmo Hope, and this shapes up to be one of the more potent combos of 1954.