Extra Tracks, Remastered
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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, March 23, 2004
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Sonny Rollins: tenor sax
Wynton Kelly: piano
Doug Watkins: bass
Philly Joe Jones: drums
The RVG Series consists of classic Blue Note albums newly remastered in 24-bit by the original engineer, legendary Rudy Van Gelder, with state-of-the-art equipment. Reissues produced by Michael Cuscuna.
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1. Tune Up (Davis)(5:42)
2. Asiatic Raes (Dorham) (5:55)
3. Wonderful! Wonderful!(Raleigh/Edwards)(5:55)
4. The Surrey With the Fringe On Top (Rodgers/Hammerstein) (6:30)
5. Blues For Philly Joe (Rollins) (6:39)
6. Namely You (Mercer/DePaul) (3:17)
Peter Niklas Wilson, in his perceptive Sonny Rollins: The Definitive Musical Guide tends to agree with the assessment made by jazz writer Jack Cooke that this album is a "formal farewell to the New York hard-bop school within which he emerged and which he was now rapidly out-growing."
In Wilson's view, "Newk's Time affirms Rollins' mastery in the standard quartet setting and takes stock of his accomplishments without, however, offering anything new or unexpected. Not that this production is a waste; many details are worth hearing. For example: the clever meter and tempo changes on Kenny Dorham's 'Asiastic Raes' and the saxophone-drum duo on 'The Surrey With the Fringe on Top' -- to my knowledge a discographic first, years before melody-rhythm duos were popularized by John Coltrane."
"And the 'Blues for Philly Joe'-- the only Rollins original on the record -- is an especially compelling example of a saxophone improvisation rigorous in its use of thematic motifs; it thus deserves a place alongside the celebrated 'Blue Seven' from Saxophone Colossus."
One final thought related to Rollins' choice of Rodgers' and Hammerstein's The Surrey With The Fringe On Top as suitable material for inclusion on an album that seems so rooted in the hard-bop genre. While it may be totally coincidental, it was only on May 11, 1956, a little over a year previous to the recording of Newk's Time, that Miles Davis teamed up with John Coltrane on their rendition of the same Broadway showtune and featured it as the opening track on Davis' album for Prestige called Steamin.' Although both versions are enjoyable, I'd give the edge to the Davis/Coltrane collaboration primarily for the added richness afforded by having both sax and trumpet solos on that piece.
Recommended for all fans of Sonny Rollins and for fans of 1950s hard-bop jazz.
Rollins has a thick, muscular tenor tone on this recording. He communicates in staccato bursts of sound, drawn out notes, or sails smoothly through the changes, depending on the mood of the piece. Philly Joe is the perfect percussion companion for the strident Rollins, his urgent fills demanding their share of the focus. I'll admit a personal bias for the ivory work of Wyn Kelly, who enlivens any recording he's part of and Newk's Time is no exception. As far as bass players go, it's almost a surprise to see Doug Watkins's name here instead of Paul Chambers, who seemed to appear on every critical session from 1957 to 1961 or so. That's not to say that he's missed, as Watkins is more than up to the job, a superb bassist in his own right.
Highlights are Rollins' stuttering phrases on the Miles Davis penned "Tune Up", the interplay between Rollins and Jones on the piano/bass-less "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top", and an absolutely knock out version of Kenny Dorham's "Asiatic Raes" (aka "Lotus Blossom). The album clocks in at thirty-five minutes even, but you'll wish it were longer. If you're a fan of Sonny Rollins or any of the other musicians here, it's definitely time for Newk's Time.
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I just bought a 3-CD Sonny Rollins set that includes "Sonny Rollins, Volume 1", "Sonny Rollins, Volume 2", and "Newk's Time."Read more