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Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus

3. Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus (Prestige, 1956)
Speaking of Sonny Rollins, as admirable as his work was with Clifford and Max, there’s nothing quite like hearing him at the helm (and as the sole horn). With Roach again at his back (along with pianist Tommy Flanagan and bassist Doug Watkins), Sonny puts on a display of pure saxophonic brawn, as well as some of the most brilliant and imaginative rhythmic soundscapes ever put to tape. And that doesn’t just mean the calypso of “St. Thomas”: Rollins can’t resist putting his percussive heft into “You Don’t Know What Love Is” either, adding to its anguish. He makes up for that in a long, cheery rendition of “Moritat” on which everyone seems to be going for it, then closes with the great “Blue 7,” on which everyone gets a marathon solo. There’s a reason why this album has gathered such acclaim for nearly 70 years.

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