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The Complete Prestige Recordings [7 CD] Box set

6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, July 16, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

7 CDs, 90 tracks that chronicle the emergence of this Harlem tenor man as a giant of modern jazz, from the early sideman work with Miles and Monk to the ten sessions he led for Prestige, culminating in the historic meeting with Trane and the crucial Saxophone Colossus album. "The best jazz tenor playing you will ever hear " Jazz Times .

This 7 CD set traces the rise of tenor saxophone giant Sonny Rollins from a talented neophyte with a big beat and a big sound, to one of the most commanding melodic and rhythmic innovators of the 1950s. Inspired by R&B/Blues master Louis Jordan, Rollins soon fell under the spell of tenor saxophone trendsetters Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, gravitating to the enormous sound of the latter, and the spacious phrasing of the other. And finally, there was the grand rhythmic/harmonic mastery of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and (especially) his elder Thelonious Monk and contemporary Miles Davis. You can hear an earnest, inexperienced but shockingly self-composed Rollins navigate the brisk boppish environment of Davis's "Conception" on disc 1, while demonstrating his West Indian rhythmic roots ("Mambo Bounce") and dry bluesy humor ("Shaddrack") on disc 2. But by disc 3's sessions with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk in 1953-54, Rollins is improvising with spacious, magisterial authority and composing three jazz standards ("Airegin," "Oleo" and "Doxy") for Davis, while proving the perfect rhythmic humorist and melodic foil for Monk on "Friday The 13th." By the time of his collaboration with trumpet master Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach on "Pent-Up House," Rollins had achieved a comprable level of technical and emotional mastery, but he hit a conceptual peak on his calypso hit "St. Thomas" and "Blue 7," where his mastery of melodic riffs and thematic motifs set an artistic standard that remains imposing-even for Rollins-some 40 years later. --Chip Stern

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Prestige
  • ASIN: B000000ZC5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,915 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Walters on August 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This 7 disc set covers all the recordings Sonny Rollins made for Prestige(either under other leaders or for his own albums) from '49 to '56, but the bulk of it is the last 3 years. While his style and sound might arguably not have shone as brightly as in the companion "Freelance Years" set - albums like "Way Out West", or "Freedom Suite" for example, there is a wealth of material here that should satisfy all but hardcore Rollins fans. You also get the chance to hear Sonny blow with others who would go on to be legends themselves - Miles, MJQ, Monk, Coltrane, Blakey, Brownie's Trio - even Bird on tenor!

The thing is though, is that this set came out in '92, and it's pretty dated. Prestige has recently begun revamping comparable sets by boxing up only the leader's sessions and so forth. So it will be interesting to see what they do with this. Reducing the packaging would be a nice step. Keep the copious notes, but lose half the box and turn the quad disc cases into slimlines. Other than that, Sonny swings!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gregory M. Wasson on June 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The mid-to-late fifties was a golden age for jazz, particularly the hard bop associated with the East Coast. Sonny Rollins was the top tenor player of that era, rivalled only by the great John Coltrane (and they both show their stuff on the legendary "Tenor Madness," included in this box). This set covers Rollins' work from 1954 to 1959, and from early gems like "Mambo Bounce," "Newk's Fadeaway," and "No Moe," through collaborations with Thelonious Monk ("Friday The 13th") and his great signature tune "St. Thomas," to a creative peak with "Blue 7" and "Moritat" (from the Weill/Brecht "Three Penny Opera"), he would never be in better form. Seven discs is lot of music from any artist, especially when the box covers his work for only six years and for a single label, but it is truly a "must have" for any fan of jazz in the 1950's.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Topper on November 10, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I cannot agree that Sonny Rollins was the best tenor player from the 1950's. It really was a great period for jazz and tenor players and there were so many truly great players, but Sonny Rollins' playing specifically up until 1957-1958 was astounding. He had a wonderful, kind of "smart-alecky" tone, unique sense of rhythm, and great imagination. Not all of these records have the greatest recording quality--especially those from the early 1950's, but you get past that issue quickly because the music is so great.

I think that when Sonny Rollins did the RCA recordings of the early 1960's, he gave up some of his free-wheeling style that made him sound so alive. He just sounded too tame. On the other hand, when he fell under the spell of John Coltrane, he gave up his sound and unique phrasing that what made him sound so different from all of the other great tenor players. No one can knock Coltrane. He was a "force of nature." The whole world is better because John Coltrane was here and played his horn. I do not believe that this is a unique phenomenon where a player "loses his way" because he is knocked-out by someone new. It has happened in classical music where a composer comes around that is so great, their contemporaries just drop everything to sound like the new guy. Coltrane had that effect on a number of sax players.

Rollins never needed to sound more like someone else. He was perfect where he was. Get this set while it is still out there. Lastly, while I know that presenting jazz with a piano-less combo makes the music more free harmonically, it also removes a certain kind of structure that most listeners really like. Some of the melodic beauty (and predictability) is lost.
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