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Saxophone Colossus (Remastered)
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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
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For those of you considering buying this in vinyl, or trying to decide between vinyl and CD, I have some comments that might be helpful.
I have the CD and LP, and I also have access to the hi-res FLAC version through Tidal. I've compared all three. The vinyl wins, hands down. The digital versions are perfectly acceptable; those who don't have a turntable should get the CD or download for sure.
But the LP sounds warmer, more alive. Doug Watkins' walking bass has a bit more bite. Tommy's piano is more present. Max's drums have more punch, not louder, but more...there. Hearing Max masterly exploiting his entire drum kit on St. Thomas and Strode Rode is such a joy. Sonny has a really lovely tone, and that comes through on the vinyl better than on the digital versions in my opinion. The vinyl version just sounds more spacious, more alive. After listening to the vinyl, I went back to the CD and FLAC tracks and they just sound a bit boxy and dead and dull. Listening not analytically but just for the joy of it, listening to the vinyl just makes me happier than listening to the digital versions.
The pressing is good, the record is perfectly flat with far below average surface noise and pops.
Buying vinyl is a bit of a gamble. Some LPs are made from the same compressed digital sources used to produce the CDs and therefore have no hope of sounding better than the CD. Some LPs are manufactured poorly, with defects like surface noise, frequent pops, warping, or the grooves are not centered around the spindle hole in the middle of the disc. Amazon is great about replacing defective records, but sometimes the problem is not a defect but mediocre sound quality. In which case why not just buy the CD.
I'm not an analog purist, I have lots of CDs and also enjoy listening to MP3 files on my iPhone and laptop. But there are some recordings where the vinyl just sounds better, and this is one of them.