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  • Ken Burns JAZZ Collection: Sonny Rollins
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Ken Burns JAZZ Collection: Sonny Rollins


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Audio CD, November 7, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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Among the most creative voices to emerge from the 1950s hard-bop movement, Sonny Rollins has long been one of the most commanding soloists in jazz, a masterful tenor saxophonist whose big sound can encompass ballad warmth and blazing runs. This compilation concentrates on Rollins's most creative years, from 1954 to 1966, and includes some of his best-known compositions, tunes like "Oleo" (played here with Miles Davis's band) and "St. Thomas," which are now standards in the jazz repertoire. His playing has often used thematic improvisation, varying and extending a tune's original melody with remarkable rhythmic creativity to unfurl long solos of brilliant structural coherence, heard here in a version of his "Sonnymoon for Two." Rollins has also demonstrated an unusual sense of humor, sometimes using unlikely tunes--like "I'm an Old Cowhand"--as a basis for his solos. His relationship to the senior tenor master, Coleman Hawkins, takes two forms here, in the unaccompanied version of "Body and Soul" and in 1963's "All the Things You Are," with Hawkins joining Rollins at his most experimental. --Stuart Broomer

1. Oleo (with The Miles Davis Quintet)
2. There's No Business Like Show Business
3. Valse Hot
4. St. Thomas
5. Blue Seven
6. I'm An Old Cowhand
7. Sonnymoon For Two
8. I Know That You Know
9. Body and Soul
10. The Bridge
11. All The Things You Are
12. Alfie's Theme Differently

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 7, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B000050I3T
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,209 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
78%
4 star
0%
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
22%
See all 9 customer reviews
It brought more fans to the music, which can only be a good thing.
Gilly Bean
Coltrane definitely played with impressive so-called "Sheets of Sound" but Rollins is also a very impressive virtuosic player as well.
David K. Wilder
Its almost impossible to distill a most prolific career into one cd but I think they came really close here.
Lance Boils

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Lund on January 31, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Certainly this Sonny Rollins overview is in need of a volume two...to get the listener caught up with all that this still-active saxophone legend has accomplished since 1966. Yet if one accepts that the CD's "Definitive" title isn't technically accurate, this is a great sampler of the highlights of Rollins' first decade-and-a-half as an all-time jazz great.
Rollins is featured in a variety of small-group settings, including an early recording of his classic composition OLEO on a session led by Miles Davis. Other jazz legends are heard (trumpeters Clifford Brown and Dizzy Gillespie among them), but no one can really overshadow Rollins' own brilliance, both as a musician and as a songwriter (VALSE HOT, ST. THOMAS, BLUE SEVEN, THE BRIDGE). And when he isn't recording his own tunes, he is reinvigorating such classic pop tunes as BODY AND SOUL and ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (the latter alongside the great reedman Coleman Hawkins).
Of course, no single CD can cover all of the highlights of even this relatively small portion of Sonny's half-century long career. Yet the bottom line is that this disc is full of five-star, prime Rollins--as much as can be stuffed onto one CD!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lance Boils on January 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is a great CD to own especially if you are not familiar with all of Sonny Rollins' work. Its almost impossible to distill a most prolific career into one cd but I think they came really close here. If you don't already know about Sonny then this is a good place to start ....then you can go mining in other areas for what is missed. If you think, like many purists, that a single CD is an affront, then you might check Silver City another fine bestof showcase of Sonny's work. Best of's are not inherently bad ideas they can really define the peak output of an artist and give a new listener a jumping off point all at once. I think this CD is a can't miss !! Tune selection here is fantastic... we could argue here all day....but there's not a dud present. I commend the producers and recommend new listeners to dig one of the all time greatest ....and he's still alive.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gilly Bean on June 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have read a lot of reviews on Ken Burn's Jazz series...the documentary as well as the cds. And I can't understand why so many people slam him for his work. I guess it's true...you just can't please all of the people all of the time. But the way I look at it is, is that the series turned a whole lot of people on to jazz, people who otherwise didn't care much for it. It brought more fans to the music, which can only be a good thing.
This is my first introduction really to Sonny Rollins, although I do have the odd track of his on compilations. And it certainly won't be my last cd of his either. These albums in the Ken Burns series are a great way for people to sample an artists work over various years and labels, before deciding whether to buy other cds of that particular artist or not. And I am sure that most people will want to buy other albums once they have heard this album or other similar ones, which is good, not only for the artist but for the whole of the jazz community.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David K. Wilder on July 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
First of all, to whoever stated that Coltrane is better - you must not know anything about music to have stated that. You can say that you like Coltrane better, but Rollins is definitely a virtuoso as well. Coltrane was good, and definitely pushed the harmonic level of jazz music. However, it is impossible to deny the vast influence that Rollins had on the way that jazz musicians approach lines, phrase lines, and compose tunes. Coltrane definitely played with impressive so-called "Sheets of Sound" but Rollins is also a very impressive virtuosic player as well. It saddens me to think that the public "music fans" still tend to judge the skills of an improviser by how fast and loud they can play. I could understand if you said that you personally liked Coltrane more, because that would make sense... many people are like this. I can respect that. But to offer no reasons to people searching on Amazon as to why you feel Coltrane is a better player, is an extremely poor example of a review.

If I could give this album 10 stars, I most certainly would. If anyone was to study the way that Rollins approached his music (both original and standard tunes) they would know that Rollins is an extremly good player. He changed the jazz world forever, as well as the improvisational world!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on November 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If you are unfamiliar with Rollin's this will convert you into a fan. Tracks from various stages of his career featuring a virtual whos who of modern jazz provide an excellent intro to this amazing artist. Max Roache's drum into to St. Thomas would be worth the price alone. Sonny Rollin's is the jazz musician's musician and for good reason. His virtuosity comes through loud and clear on every track.This is the real thing...highest recommendation.
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