Sonny Rollins – Rollins Plays For Bird (1956/2014) [HDTracks 24-44.1]

Sonny Rollins – Rollins Plays For Bird (Rudy Van Gelder Remaster) (1956/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 52:52 minutes | 611 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | © Prestige Records
Recorded: October 5, 1956 at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, NJ
Remastered: 2007, Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

When Charlie Parker died, people who never had done anything in recognition of his great talent, suddenly rushed to the mourner’s bench and delivered eulogies. This record is by musicians who knew him intimately, appreciated him tremendously during his lifetime and felt his loss far more acutely than any of the self-styled sufferers. This is a simple tribute in the form of a medley composed of seven tunes that were recorded and, for the most part, played often by Parker.

The medley was chosen by Sonny Rollins, the most important saxophonist carrying on and enriching the Parker tradition. Sonny also chose the musicians to help him play the tribute. At the time, the five together embodied the Max Roach Quintet. Leader Roach and Kenny Dorham had played with Parker in his quintets and were well qualified to take part in the tribute. While Wade Legge and George Morrow never worked with Bird, their playing is in keeping with the tenets of the Parker tradition. Oddly enough, the seven tunes are all from the post-1950 Parker repertoire.

As the tenor sax is not in the same key as an alto, Sonny Rollins would have to transpose a lot of music to take a tribute to Charlie Parker to a high level. Instead Rollins has chosen standards associated with Parker, and recorded them within a year after Bird’s passing. This idea poses some peculiar challenges, added on to the fact that the quintet of Rollins starts the proceedings with a 27-minute medley of seven tunes seamlessly stitched together. Pianist Wade Legge, an unsung hero of jazz in the ’50s for sure, plays some wonderful music here, and laces the grooves of the tunes together, while bassist George Morrow and the always exceptional drummer Max Roach keep things moving forward. Even more unusual is that trumpeter Kenny Dorham is in many instances invisible on the date, playing less than a cursory role to Rollins. Dorham rarely plays together with him, and is much more separate than equal, which in many regards is a shame. Considering how well Dorham and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson worked as a tandem, one wonders why this happened. The music certainly has its moments, as on the inexhaustible medley. Rollins plays the melody on alternating songs “I Remember You” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” Dorham has at it for “My Melancholy Baby” and “Just Friends,” with Legge getting his two cents in on trio only versions of “Old Folks” and “My Little Suede Shoes.” Finally the whole band joins in on the ten-minute finale “Star Eyes.” Even for the heartiest fans, this long-winded exercise might prove taxing. Rollins does the ballad “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your (Her) Face,” and the horns finally play together for the nearly 12-minute cool waltz “Kids Know.” A disappointment in terms of the division of labor, and not the merging of titans jazz lovers would have wished for, this recording still provides a great deal of high level music that could have been so much more. ~~AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos

Tracklist:
1 Medley: I Remember You / 26:56
— My Melancholy Baby /
— Old Folks /
— They Can’t Take Away From Me /
— Just Friends /
— My Little Suede Shoes /
— Star Eyes
2 Kid’s Know 11:40
3 I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face 04:55
4 The House I Live In 09:21

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Kenny Dorham – trumpet
Wade Legge – piano
George Morrow – bass
Max Roach – drums

Production:
Reissue producers: Nick Phillips and Bob Porter
Recording and remastering engineer: Rudy Van Gelder

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