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.
This disc contains an all-star cast headed up by Thelonious Monk (piano) and includes some collaborative efforts with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax) that go beyond simply inspired and into a realm of musical telepathy. The five tunes included on Work are derived from three separate sessions held between November of 1953 and September of the following year. As is often the case, this likewise means that there are three distinct groups of musicians featured.
The soundtrack to the performance film Saxophone Colossus features long Sonny Rollins tenor solos on "G-Man" and "Don't Stop the Carnival" and a briefer one during "Kim." Joined by his usual quintet of the era (trombonist Clifton Anderson, pianist Mark Soskin, electric bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith), Rollins is in good form, saying little that it is new but delivering passionate messages with his typical spirit; the video is worth getting too.
Along with tenor saxophonist Harold Land, altoist Sonny Criss qualifies as one of the most overlooked giants of West Coast jazz. His sound – like most alto players of the bebop and hard bop days – was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, but Criss still managed to forge an original style featuring a very original melodic bent with loads of bluesy underpinnings. The goods can be optimally previewed on this great Prestige date from 1966. Backed by a trio consisting of pianist Walter Davis, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Alan Dawson, Criss makes fine work of such rare-bird covers as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "When Sunny Gets Blue." There are also some fine originals here, including Criss' own "Steve's Blues" and Davis' classic "Greasy." A perfect start to your Criss collection.