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4.6 out of 5 stars21
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This 2 CD set nicely and distinctively packaged has a total running time of approx 110 minutes. Of major interest to collectors of jazz sax is the Prestige Records album dating from 1956 entitled "Saxophone Colossus" on CD1 which with its 5 tracks and quartet setting of Sonny Rollis on tenor sax; Tommy Flanagan on piano; Doug Watkins on bass & Max Roach on drums established Sonny Rollins as a headline performer and recording artist. CD2 comprises the Blue Note album "Newk's Time" (1957) and Prestige Records "Tenor Madness" which predates the CD1 album by about a month and which is famous for showcasing John Coltrane & Sonny Rollins. The albums are a mix of Sonny Rollins own compositions (6) and interpretations of standards of the era. Listen out for his version of the Johnny Mathis hit "Wonderful, Wonderful" and the earlier "My Reverie". The sound quality is excellent. Informative liner notes by Michael Heatley. This is yet another great addition to the Not Now jazz catalogue that is building into something very big in the budget CD marketplace.
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on 22 March 2012
Great early sessions by Sonny Rollins. If you're even looking at this release, you already know that.

My review, and the 2 star rating, is based on the fact that this is another gray area copyright-expiration release. And my severe annoyance at the claim that this has been "digitally remastered." Oh really? Because the company that issued this doesn't have access to the master tapes. All they can do is take CDs that are already issued, legitimately, by his original record company, and use a graphic equalizer to mess around them to make them worse. You can do the same thing using treble/bass/midrange boost on your player.

This box is cheap, but so it should be, since the company issuing it doesn't have to pay royalties to the record company or to Sonny Rollins, who is still alive and assuredly could use the royalties.

All these gray market releases suck what's left out of the record biz and make it less likely that we'll ever see legitimate returns to the actual master tapes, and, in the case of a guy like Rollins, less likely that he'll even see returns for his own work.

Buy the box if you wish, but truthfully, the only difference between this and a download from the Internet is that here you get to pay a middleman who has nothing to do with the music.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 February 2012
When I was in my teens, in the late 1960s, I used to see a bald, paunchy, behatted figure somewhere in his thirties, twisted over a sax (usually of the soprano variety) on Waterloo Bridge near the South Bank Centre, playing for hours on end to the wind, to the Thames, and to young jazz lovers like me. I hope I managed to give lovely Lol Coxhill a few coins, for it was he.
Lol was and is an almost exact contemporary of Sonny Rollins, who has now turned eighty and is still playing, bless his beard. (So is Lol, as far as I know, and he was always well worth catching, beard or no beard.) The point is, Lol was a big fan of Rollins - as indeed who wouldn`t have been back then? - and his tenure on that bridge in London was no doubt as much inspired by the American`s nighttime sojourns on a similar bridge in New York in the early `60s as it was by the need to earn a precarious crust.
The three albums on this enterprising 2-disc bonanza from the NotNow label, who do this kind of blues & jazz repackaging rather well, are self-recommending, the more so if you already know how tremendous a force in jazz Sonny has been for the last sixty years or so. All three show the tenor man at his early peak, with an uncluttered, unsentimental, gently burnished tone, capable of caressing a ballad or swinging with the best on an uptempo workout.
Tommy Flanagan is the pianist on the marvellous Saxophone Colossus - you know from the first moments of St Thomas that you`re in safe hands, and each track is a gem -while Wynton Kelly fills the piano chair most eloquently on Newk`s Time. Playing piano on Tenor Madness is Red Garland. Three great pianists...before we`ve even begun to mention Max Roach`s succinct, idiosyncratic drumming on Colossus or Philly Joe Jones performing similar duties on the other two albums.
Of course, a big draw on the weakly, not to say optimistically titled Tenor Madness from 1956 (the earliest date here, by a mere month) is one John Coltrane, at 29 the elder musician by four years, but with fewer records to his name at that time. It`s a very fine album, though no more than that. They are both too similar and too different for the meeting to be more than simply superb jazz; there`s nothing you could call incendiary to be heard, particularly after the two unimprovable albums that precede it on these discs. However, listen to the title track (the only one on which Trane appears, not clear unless you read the small print) and hear two great sax players trading riffs in gorgeous sound - as if it were recorded yesterday - and you`ll hear an example of what jazz at its best is all about. Tenor Madness is a peerless, fearless document of a one-off meeting between two great musicians in their young and eager pomp. It`s great stuff.
This release, with its excellent packaging and Michael Heatley`s sleevenotes, is a welcome bargain, and is packed to the rafters with tremendous music.
Not so long after these discs, Sonny could be seen sometimes on a certain bridge... But that`s another story.
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on 17 February 2016
Despite what some of these whiny pin-heads say about widows and orphans not getting any royalties.. get over it.. this stuff is in the public domain now, so shut up. I don't know where NotNowMusic sourced this music but like with the Dizzy Gillespie (Getting' Dizzy) release and the Modern Jazz Quartet (Jazzology) double cd, the sound is GREAT. This is a good, economical way to sample some cool jazz and see if you want to delve any further.

As far as the music goes, well, it's subjective, isn't it? If you don't like modern jazz then you probably wont like this cd. Personally, I love it. It bops along quite nicely (I'm playing it right now... a swingin' version of Mack The Knife) and them feets just keep a-tappin'.. The opener ("St Thomas") has a nice Caribbean feel to it.. drummer Max Roach has a field day throughout. Yeah, I'd recommend it.. nothing wrong with the quality here and if the music has been sourced from pristine vinyl, as far as I'm concerned, all the better.. it sounds fine to me. A couple of nice, full-page pics of the man inside the cd cover and also 2 pages of liner notes. The back cover will tell you who plays on the sessions. You get 3 full albums here. 1) Saxophone Colossus on disc one... 2) Newk's Time and 3) Tenor Madness on disc two. All you need for starters. It's a great deal. Check it out... don't listen to the 2-star, nerd-bucket naysayers.. ah, the cd has finished.. and I totally enjoyed it.
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on 24 January 2012
Second to Kind Of Blue (yes, I'm predictable), this is my favourite jazz recording ever. Every track is brilliant. This is a nice edition too, with the addition of Newk's Time and Tenor Madness albums. Excellent sound quality, great remastering.
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on 9 April 2012
Brilliant. Absolute knockout music. Great at any time of day and night. It reaches the parts Heineken can't reach. Colossus hits the nail on the head.
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on 16 May 2014
I was perplexed by the download.The album is listed as having 16 tracks but only 6 downloaded.On examination of the 6 that had downloaded one track was over 10 minutes long and one track was over 11 minutes.Several tracks had been combined so that one downloaded 'track' contained more than one listed 'track' on the album.Having said all that the album shows Sonny Rollins in very fine form!
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on 28 June 2012
A timeless classic from one of the great masters of the tenor sax and what great value for money with the extra disc containing two more albums. Highly reccommended.
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on 23 April 2012
This is a must for any collection, a timeless and wonderful recording by a true master musician of Jazz or any other musical genre.
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on 18 April 2012
I saw a Sonny Rollins documentary on the Beeb a while ago and bought this off the bck of that. This is a really good album and great value for money with 3 albums on 2 discs all for a few quid. BARGIN.
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