Sonny Rollins

Bluebird

Even if you accept the oft-quoted notion that jazz is “the sound of surprise,” you still probably won’t be prepared for the truly original approach that tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins takes with standards like Kurt Weill’s “My Ship” and Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time” on Sonny Rollins and Company 1964. Even when Rollins plays the memorable theme of “Ship” in a relatively straightforward fashion, his ever-shifting tonal qualities alternately suggest romantic reverie and acerbic recollection, while the solos (wonderfully supported by guitarist Jim Hall’s lustrous harmonic carpet) careen all over the track’s emotional landscape. In Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” fogbound arpeggios and briefly but intensely trembling vibrato-laden notes work with and around a calypso-laced arrangement. Parker’s “Time,” on the other hand, is stated with a blustery skepticism, which, given the turbulent period of this recording, is altogether appropriate.

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