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Way Out West Import

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, March 25, 2013
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Product Description

Way Out West by Sonny Rollins

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Widely acknowledged as the most significant and accomplished tenor saxophonist in the world, Sonny Rollins's recording legacy is nothing short of extraordinary. Beginning as a sideman in the late-'40s, he worked with Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, and Miles Davis. Since recording his first date as a leader in 1954, Rollins has recorded dozens of albums for numerous labels, eventually settling in for a long stay on Milestone. Way Out West, recorded in 1957, is one of two superb albums cut for the small, California-based Contemporary label (the other is 1958's Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders). Although a consummate sideman, Rollins rarely seems at ease with his pianists on his own dates, and Way Out West's trio format, with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, dispenses with that problem. The tenorman's playful humor is evident in the album's selections, which include such unlikely candidates as "Wagon Wheels" and "I'm an Old Cowhand"--both elevated to previously unimaginable heights. This is a remarkably confident album--relaxed, swinging, thoughtful and deeply satisfying. And just in case that's not enough, the cover photo, featuring Rollins in Stetson and holster with his horn on his hip, is about as cool as it gets. --Fred Goodman
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Fantasy Records
  • Run Time: 12 minutes
  • ASIN: B000000YIQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,814 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This cd is packed with timeless music. Rollins' performance on this classic from 1957 not only solidified him as one of the greatest tenors of his generation, but, along with all of the other material from his illustrious fifty plus year career, has stood the test of time to make him one of the all-time greatest musicians regardless of style. Backed by a duo of legends in bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, Rollins cooks from beginning to end. He is in prime form, still a relativly unknown tenor when this album came out, he plays like a man ahead of his years. Sonny's tone is hard, percussive, rasping, and even playful, a full spectrum of colors and moods. What makes this a truly great album is that every single note Rollins plays is a highlight. His soloing stands up to repeated listening and rewards the effort with something new each time through. Manne and Brown contribute fantastic performances of their own, matching Rollins by producing phenominal solos of their own. Even the usually aggravating practice of sticking alternate takes behind the originals hardly makes a difference. Rollins, Manne, and Brown are so brimming with ideas, the longer alternates offer the listener just that much more of a good thing. This is one of those albums that needs to be in every jazz collection, even the cover photo is a classic. Buy this cd if you do not already own it, you will not be dissapointed.
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Format: Audio CD
Believe it or not, this reviewer has been a Jazz fan for years and surprisingly had never heard anything by Sonny Rollins until this week with the purchase of "Way Out West". I must say that listening to this album was like unlocking a door to a mansion (like my discovering of John Coltrane was) and there definitely will be more Sonny albums making their way to my collection soon.

With that out of the way, onto the music itself: "Way Out West" was recorded in 1957 and finds Rollins playing in a piano-less trio backed only by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne. The liner notes to the album state that the three musicians hadn't played together before until this recording session. You'd never know it by listening to this album though. Rollins, Brown and Manne play off each other effortlessly and are like six hands in a glove. It's as if they'd played together for years.

On the upbeat tracks, "I'm an Old Cowhand", "Come Gone" and the title track, Rollins and his trio really swing and leave plenty of space for improvisation and soloing. "Come Gone" is an especially prime example of this.

The same can be said for the slower ballad-oriented pieces. Sonny's take on Duke Ellington's "Solitude" is superb and soothing and is a real standout. "Wagon Wheels", while not neccesarily a ballad, is also a standout with its mid-tempo blues-like runs.

Besides the original tracks that made up the album, there are also three alternate takes tacked on as bonus tracks. The alternate version of "I'm An Old Cowhand" is arguably stronger than its master take and is also twice as long running at 10 minutes rather than five and a half. The alternates of "Come Gone" and the title track are performed in such a way that they almost become different pieces of music altogether.
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Format: Audio CD
Next to Saxophone Colossus, don't pass up this recording if you want excellent Rollins for your collection. Years ago, I bought this on a recommendation from a friend. Having never listened to Rollin's before, I was pretty floored! I still am every time I listen to it, which (at least to me), is a testament to the recording's magic and longevity.
Rollins was absolutely incandecent on "Come, Gone" and "There is No Greater Love". He also really injects some very wry, swinging humor into his renditions of "I'm An Old Cowhand", "Wagon Wheels" and "Way Out West". The man's artistic genius and humanity really shine in this recording. Highly recommended!
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By A Customer on September 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Sonny was in his absolute prime when he cut Way Out West. No tennor ever had a better tone than "Newk", and that includes some very exclusive company, (Clotrane, Getz, Shorter, etc.) The painstaking remastering job here brings out the brillance of his majestic sound. To me Sonny's pharsing has always had the same inherent rhythem as the great post-war singers like Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Without a single bad note or overstated pharse, Way Out West is some of the best hard-bop you'll ever hear. Fortunately Sonny is still going strong and at seventy-something he is still producing vital music for us to enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
I wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July by remembering the the unique creativity of American jazz. I first read a recent new short book by Kevin Whitehead about this American art form. Why Jazz?: A Concise Guide. Whitehead's book highly praises Sonny Rollins' 1957 album "Way out West" which is in my collection. I hadn't heard it for awhile. Therefore, I decided to rehear it in celebration of the American culture that American independence ultimately helped to bring about.

Way out West is a classic recording in every way, including the cover photo by William Claxton which shows Rollins dressed as a gunslinger in the desert holding his saxophone. The recording has been reissued many times. I am reviewing the most recent reissue in 2010, which has not been reviewed on Amazon before now. But the prior 1991 reissue garnered many exellent Amazon reviews from which I learned a great deal. In 1988, reissues of this recording began to include three alternative takes not included in the 1957 initial release, substantially expanding the length of the recording.

Way out West was recorded shortly after Rollins' famous album "Saxophone Collossus" and has unfortunately tended to remain in its shadow. It was a pioneering recording in its own right. Rollins did not use the piano and the opportunity for chordal background it afforded. Instead, the recording consisted of the trio of Rollins, tenor saxophone, Ray Brown, bass, and Shelly Manne, drums. The small combo and the absence of piano allowed for a tighter sound and increased opportunity for improvisation.
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