Newk’s Picks

Sonny Rollins chooses 10 must-hear tenor cuts

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Grover Washington Jr.
By Paul S. Wilson
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Ben Webster and Harry Edison, New York 1962
By Don Hunstein

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Yesterday we published the all-time top 50 tenor saxophone recordings as chosen by an elite group of artists and critics. Today we turn the floor over to Mr. Sonny Rollins, who knows a thing or two about tenor.

Coleman Hawkins: “The Man I Love”
A very exciting record: high musicality, extraordinary personnel, definitely a tenor saxophone gem.

Lester Young: “Afternoon of a Basie-ite”
It’s a perfect example of his lyricism, his nonpareil sense of swing. The great Lester Young—the man who influenced generations.

John Coltrane: “Giant Steps”
Establishing a new saxophone language.

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis: “Lockjaw”
One of the most underrated and unique tenor players of any era.

Ben Webster: “Cotton Tail”
Also a trendsetter. His work cannot be
overlooked. Important.

Dexter Gordon (with Dizzy Gillespie): “Blue ’n’ Boogie”
Dexter Gordon influenced so many of the younger tenor players who followed him.

Stan Getz (with Woody Herman): “Four Brothers”
Stan led in the popularity of the “white” tenor sound. And don’t forget Brew Moore.

Don Byas (with Dizzy Gillespie): “Be-Bop”
The saxophone wizard. He could play anything and everything on the horn with fluidity, authority and style.

Junior Walker: “Shotgun”
Junior exemplified the viability of the tenor in soul, pop and rock.

Grover Washington Jr.: “Mister Magic”
Grover, one of my favorites, spearheaded the soul-jazz movement.

Originally published in June 2012

3 Comments

  • Jul 12, 2012 at 01:06AM Joseph Zamberlin

    Stan Getz, were he black, ( I could care less what color he was) had/has a sound that "black" jazz musicians would gladly claim as their own. Me thinks SR full of something not appetizing. A "from the thirties" type comment. Awful nice of SR to offer a token seat on the top ten to whitey., with a little deprecation to boot. Maybe Sonny thinks he should have played on all those classic Jobim sides? Would it have been better? Me thinks not.

  • Jul 12, 2012 at 01:14AM Joseph Zamberlin

    By the way, I love Sonny, the man and the music, and met him and his late and awfully white, and very nice wife/manager many years ago, and don't think SR has a problem with this race, that is why this comment was so..??? weird, especially about Getz, who had a sound that was really disconnected from anything identifiably racial, really 'other worldly" is how I would describe it. Certainly there are tons of musicians who's sound/approach could be labled "white," and usually, usually, not always, but usually coming from a jazz artist that is a slam of some sort or another as most readers here know all too well.

  • Jul 12, 2012 at 01:21AM Joseph Zamberlin

    typo, should read "problem with race" not "this race."

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