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  • Saxophone Colossus
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Saxophone Colossus Original recording reissued

151 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, July 1, 1991
$22.85 $0.01

Editorial Reviews

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Though he lacked the improvisational fire of John Coltrane and the restless curiosity of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins played with a rich, round tone that complimented his melodic inclinations, making him the most accessible of the post-bop musicians. Saxophone Colossus is the most successful of the late '50s albums that made his reputation. Rollins' playing never falters; he's backed by the redoubtable Max Roach on drums, Tommy Flannagan on piano, and Doug Watkins on bass. Rollins is equally at home with the lilting Caribbean air of "St. Thomas," standards ("You Don't Know What Love Is"), blues ("Strode Rode," featuring a driving Tommy Flannagan solo), and a smoldering version of Brecht-Weill's "Moritat" (better known as "Mac the Knife"). If you are new to jazz, there is no better place to start than Saxophone Colossus. --Steven Mirkin


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. St. Thomas 6:47$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. You Don't Know What Love Is 6:29$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Strode Rode 5:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
  4. Moritat10:04Album Only
  5. Blue 711:17Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 1, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Original Jazz Classics/Prestige
  • ASIN: B000000YG5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,765 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Harris on May 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Without a doubt, one of the five best jazz albums ever made is this 1956 masterpiece. Recorded in a single day at Rudy Van Gelder's living room/studio, Sonny Rollins earned his place as a legend with "Saxophone Colossus". Aided and abetted by powerhouse drummer Max Roach, pianist Tommy Flanagan, and bassist Doug Watkins, the quartet plays with the precision of a chamber orchestra, and swings just as hard. It's not very often that you hear an album where the musicians are so in tune with each other. From the breezy sway of "St. Thomas" to the final notes of "Blue 7", Rollins and company shows how it should be done. This newly remastered edition finally sounds as great as the original vinyl pressing but without the hefty price you'll shuck out for an original copy. No serious jazz fan should be without a copy of this amazing album in their collection.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Fineberg on September 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The question of who was the greater tenor sax player--Rollins or John Coltrane--continues even today. Let's look at it this way...in 1956, Coltrane was gaining prominence in Miles Davis' quintet, but he was far from being a great player. He did not yet have the technique to express the wild ideas in his brain. A year later, however, he went to play with Thelonious Monk's quartet, and the experience liberated him and his style. Only at that point could he truly hold his own against Rollins, who was already a mature player by 1956. Compared side by side, it seems Coltrane recorded more bona fide classic albums than Rollins, but I don't believe any of them are as consistently great as "Saxophone Colossus" ("Giant Steps" comes closest). Rollins' playing throughout the album is extraordinary, especially on the last number, "Blue 7", a strange blues improvisation which features one of Max Roach's fiercest drum solos. Tommy Flanagan plays piano, and he is known to double the quality of any album he plays on. Doug Watkins plays the bass, and he's got a nice sense of swing...one wonders why he only solos on one tune--"Moritat". But the star is Rollins, who is on fire from the word go. Clarity, coherence, speed, imagination and unpredictability are his weapons, and they make this probably the best saxophone record ever.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Hutchinson on November 10, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Having never heard of Analog productions before I was a bit reluctant to spend almost $30 for this hybrid SACD, but decided to try it out. This is the most impressed I have been by a Super Audio CD since "Kind of Blue". Very good presence and none of the stridence which can interfere with my enjoyment of tenor sax at times. Analogue productions has very high production values indeed. They claim on the label that the high quality of the sound is due to their proprietary all-tube tape mastering equipment with the latest DSD transfer technology. I will buy more SACD's from them starting with another Sonny - "Way Out West". I may buy their whole catalog :-).
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on March 19, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Sonny Rollins , considered by many to be the quintessential live performer, admittedly felt restricted in a studio. However listening to his masterpiece Saxophone Colossus it is clear that he was on this occasion able to capture some of the energy of a live performance on vinyl. The record is a tour-du-force of Rollins musical vision and mastery of improvisational inventiveness within a melodic and harmonic form that draws the listener in chorus after chorus.
Max Roach's drumming drives every track particularly the classic St Thomas. Roach and Rollins trade 4's on Blue 7 and play off of each other beautifully throughout. Tommy Flanagan's piano playing is subtle and perfectly suited to this group.
This is my favorite Rollins recording other than those made with Clifford Brown and Max Roach's group.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Howard on September 20, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The brilliance of this album has been stated many times by people with more jazz knowledge than me. However I thought I should echo what the other reviewer states here: there are some minor problems with this disc. Specifically, there is a flutter on the 4th track "Moritat." I thought I heard it 3-4 different times. It doesn't ruin the music, but you might be tempted to return the disc. The RVG series is stellar so I'm assuming it's a problem with the masters. If that's not the problem then it may be in the manufacturing. Mildly disappointing...

I would like to put in a quick mention of the genius of Max Roach. His technique on the ride cymbal is revolutionary. I could write an essay on it myself! All in all, this is one of my all-time favorite jazz albums.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Sonny Rollins solidified his claim to the top tenor spot of the late 1950's with albums like, "Way Out West" and this one. His tone is warm, full, and flawless as he swings his way through this set with Max Roach on drums, Tommy Flanagan on piano, and Doug Watkins on bass. The calypso flavored "St Thomas" opens the disc and is a textbook example of what makes Rollins great. His playing is effortless, relaxed, and flawless. He displays a soft touch with sensetive interpretation of the standard "You Don't Know What Love Is", and kicks it back into high gear with the hard charging uptempo "Strode Rode". He displays his talent for uncovering unconventional material with a selection from a German musical here titled "Moritat". The final track is the jazz masterpiece "Blue7". Featuring masterful solos by Roach and Rollins this track leaves one feeling Sonny is cooler than most people could hope to be. Saxophone Colossus is one of those rare albums that is packed with legendary performances and future standards, flawless from top to bottom. This cd is essential and is guaranteed to delight.
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