Sonny Rollins (ts), Nat Adderley (cnt), Clark Terry (tp), Billy Byers, Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Dick Katz, Gil Coggins (p), René Thomas (g), Wendell Marshall, Henry Grimes (b), Specs Wright, Kenny Dennis, Roy Haynes (d), Ernie Wilkins (arr)
Reference: FSRCD 649
Bar code: 8427328606493
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Sonny Rollins debut album with a big band was nothing if not impressive. Producer Leonard Feather joined forces with arranger Ernie Wilkins to give Rollins a set of four orchestral showcases for his horn. The stellar brass section delivers a quality performance, but it is Rollins blowing and his enormous verve, virility and inventiveness that carry the load. Theres a buoyancy in his playing that drives through the album, enlivening also the small group sides. The rhythm section on the big band date includes Dick Katz on piano, and drummer Roy Haynes, but the bassist on both sessionstrio and Big Brasswas the great Henry Grimes.
Originally released by Metrojazz, the album shows Rollins to considerable advantage in both settings, and then, on the last track, he stars unaccompanied, full of fluency and freshness, on the tune indelibly associated with him - Body and Soul.
The last session in this set was also a Feather production, recorded for Period Records in 1957, coincidentally the year Rollins was voted New Tenor Sax Star in the Down Beat Critics Poll. This time the setting is a quintet, with Jimmy Cleveland on trombone. Rollins work on the funky blues Sonnymoon for Two has an arresting, stop-time chorus and though he hardly alters his regular rhythmic style, no tenor back then could swing more with more authority and sustained drive.