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Tenor Madness/Saxophone Colossus
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A magnificent CD, with all but perfect mastering, of an album of great music. Tenor Madness, along with Saxophone Colossus, is the Sonny Rollins' album one has to own from this fertile period of his career. In fact in just 12 months Rollins not only recorded those two albums but at least five others! A work rate few of today's musicians could equal. Here he is backed by the Miles Davis rhythm section (Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Jo Jones on drums). But it is the guest on the title track--that other great tenor sax player, John Coltrane--which is the real draw to this album. The two battle as only two giants can. The poet John Dryden may not have known much about jazz (unluckily for him he died in 1700) but when he wrote, "Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and this partitions do their bounds divide", he could have been writing about this track: tenor madness and tenor greatness. --Phil Brett
Top Customer Reviews
Let's just begin by saying that according to Miles Davis (in his autobiography) Sonny Rollins could have been the greatest sax player ever if he didn't begin to immitate Coltrane's sound after a while.
Still according to my (much less expert) opinion Sonny Rollins ranks as high as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane to complete the best three sax players I have heard to this day.
And guess what; in Tenor Madness you can hear Coltrane and Rollins jamming together, along with the legendary 1st Miles Davis Quintet (without Miles of course) and on Saxophone Colossus, Rollins greatness is even clearer when not having to duel with Trane.
I can't even begin to describe the tracks, so I won't [how convenient!]
...just buy and listen... even if you haven't heard another jazz record you will still enjoy those two, but if you have my guess is you will love them
I've only heard maybe 5 or 6 albums by Sonny which is only a small percentage of the total he has recorded (he's still recording!), but I would say these are the two best I've heard so far.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
So the CD goes downhill from there, right? No way. Sonny is as relaxed as a late summer morning on the second track, "When Your Lover Has Gone." Red Garland (piano) and Paul Chambers (bass) also takes solos that are as smooth as a velvet rainbow. "Paul's Pal" is a nice groove number with some outstanding brush work by drummer Philly Joe Jones. "My Reverie" finds Sonny floating a soft, smoky vibrato over the rhythm section. The disc concludes with "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," a Richard Rodgers tune that the boys have great fun reconstructing. Great solos by all.
Very highly recommended.
Recorded in 1956
Total time: 35:24
Tenor Madness swings in ever which way. There ain't a bad track on the whole album. A masterpiece from start to finish. Though over-shadowed by its more famous father release, Saxophone Colossus, Tenor Madness can hold its own, and it features some of the best tenor saxophone playing by Sonny, and ever in jazz.
The players were top notch too. For the first track, John Coltrane sits in. I believe Sonny thought it was his job to let the new guy blow. Sort of like old man let's young man have a shot. And back and forth solos between them in the song is almost woth the price of the cut alone.
There isn't two saxophonists who play more different. You can easily distinguish Sonny from Trane, and both of their ideas are endless and imaginative.
And joining Trane and Newk was The Red Garland Trio. Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Also know as, the rhythm section of the Miles Davis Quintet. The three worked together on numerous projects, though Garland substituted Art Taylor for drummer Philly Joe Jones most of the time, on Red's solo projects, The Red Garland Trio quickly became Garland, Chambers, and Art Taylor, but the original drummer, Philly Joe Jones is here for the recording.
Red Garland was truely his own man. Very distinct style, with his use of block chords, and melodically swinging approach. After Sonny gives up his solo time and Garland comes in, a beautiful mileau comes over you, due to Garland's colorful and imaginative solos.
Paul Chambers' bass solos, some while using a bow, are extraudinary. Philly Joe had a way of being very melodic when he soloed. His solos are very imaginative and all fit well with the piece. He compliments whom ever is soloing very well, and makes it even more of a joy to listen to.
Though the album opens up with the classic, Tenor Madness, I agree with the other reviewer who was pleased more with the last few tunes, omit John Coltrane.
There is The Most Beautiful Girl started out in 3/4 and which features a very nice melodic drum solo by Philly Joe, and there is the dedication piece to Paul Chambers, Paul's Pal, perhaps the most melodic tune on the whole album. I love when Sonny and Philly Joe are trading solos, and Sonny just finds that special note he likes and just sticks with it, calm and subtle, and Philly Joe just picks up his brushes and solos like nothing ever happened.
This was a unique and enjoyable recording all around. I highly recommend it to anybody into jazz, for a short time or for a while. You can't go wrong with Tenor Madness.