365 Days of Album Recommendations – July 15

Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus


I’ve heard it said that Sonny Rollins is the greatest all-around soloist in the history of jazz, and it can be hard to argue against this assessment.

As an arch conceptualist with a broad conception of melodic possibility and an endless store of imagination and ideas, Sonny Rollins has historically been one of very few jazz players who can escort a listener along album-length improvisations without ever once repeating himself, unless it was intentional, and for effect.

While Coltrane did it with just a sheer, desperate, searching desire to reach something just beyond where he’d just been, Rollins does it with a sort of mathematical sense of play; he’s not a “math” player by ANY stretch of the imagination, but the rigor of his playfulness, the logic of his lilt, and the architecture of even his most out improvisations, are consistently and unfailingly works of geometric precision.

It’s all here on this release; an album many consider his masterpiece. He is at turns mysterious, playful, funky, angular, and swinging, and his enormous tone invites you into a sonic world totally owned by no one but Sonny Rollins.

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