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on 21 June 2017
One eminent Jazz reviewer described this as 'almost a classic'.
For me it's an absolute classic and one of the very best albums Rollins ever released.
His interpretations of God Bless the Child, and Cole Porter's You Do Something to Me make this an essential recording on their own.
By the way, this 2010 CD version sounds a lot better than the 2013 remaster (which is harsh)
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 February 2012
Once upon a time, a respected, idiosyncratic jazz saxophonist decided he`d had enough of life in the fast lane and withdrew for a couple of years, but could be seen and heard on a bridge in New York, playing to the wind, the stars and any nocturnal passers-by. (A few years later our own Lol Coxhill did a similar thing on Waterloo Bridge in London. I know - I used to see him there.)
When the musician `came down` from the bridge he recorded an album entitled - well, what do you think it was called?
There is a special feel to this 1962 record, especially when you know the above story. Sparely accompanied by a handpicked trio of Jim Hall on guitar, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and either Ben Riley (on all but one track) or Harry T Saunders on drums, Sonny Rollins plays some of the freshest, least sentimental, most lucent sax you`re ever likely to hear. All that night air must have cleared his mind.
Things get underway briskly and winningly on the oddly apt Without A Song, proving that Sonny was anything but.
Where Are You (sung peerlessly by Sinatra on the record of that name) is tenderly lovely. The often fiery Rollins could slow things down as lushly as Lester Young or Ben Webster.
His own John S is a jagged number that repays many listens, while the title track, also by Rollins, is an uptempo showcase for all the band, with a sweetly eloquent solo from Hall followed by Riley laying into his drumkit in robust fashion. The Bridge - both track and album - proves that Sonny hadn`t become a recluse or some kind of musical elitist during his two-year sojourn, and was ready, willing and able to swing with the best.
His playing on God Bless The Child, forever associated with Billie Holiday, though a much-covered song and melody, is quite pensively beautiful. It is the sparest arrangement on this immaculate album, with Cranshaw`s mellow bass coming into its own, Saunders a sensitive percussive presence, and a wonderful Jim Hall solo, who plays runs and chords with a kind of languid tightness that`s exactly right for this classic number. A flawless performance by all concerned.
The final You Do Something To Me is a mid-tempo glide through this spring-like number, still musically lean - you can hear the spaces between the notes throughout this set - but rich in inventiveness and restrained emotion.
This unigue record of a musician`s return to the jazz fold is, to say the least, essential listening. It simply grows in wonder.
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on 29 December 2013
Way back in the day when I was a teenager playing R&B with my mates and becoming increasingly disenchanted with its limitations I met an older guy who would buy jazz albums (on vinyl) - record them on his Ferrograph tape recorder (an enormous piece of kit built like a tank) and offer them for sale at half price. Much to the exasperation of my dyed-in-the-wool R&B buddies who considered me a heretic or posturing gullible twit, I would buy some of them unplayed saying I had confidence in his musical judgement. They scoffed derisively - as drunken, pot-sodden head bangers are wont to do.

The 3 (occasionally 4) chord tricks I had been bashing out had all but dulled my senses to the subtleties of jazz which I didn't know much about - but did know what I liked when I heard it. This album was the one I liked best of all and played it till it wore out. I had no idea then if it was great jazz or not. However, the passage of time seems to have confirmed my youthful feeling that it was, indeed, utterly awesome. Pundits have said that if you only own 2 jazz albums this has to be the other one! I'm not prepared to go that far but if you do only intend to own two you could do far far worse than include this in your collection. It is an absolute gem.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 March 2013
The great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins quit the jazz scene in the summer of 1959 and could sometimes be heard at night practising on New York's Williamsburg Bridge.
Rollins' first album after his woodshedding period was apprpriately titled 'The Bridge' and recorded at RCA Victor Studios on January 30 & February 13/14, 1962.
The piano-less quartet featured guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bob Cranshaw & drummer Ben Riley(replaced by H.T.Saunders on one track) and showed that there was no radical change in Rollins' playing from his pre-sabbatical days.
The six memorable tracks feature impressive interplay between Rollins and Hall and highlights include Rollins' up-tempo title-track and a beautiful version of 'God Bless The Child'.
'The Bridge' still sounds fresh over 50 years later and is an essential item in any Rollins collection.
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on 1 August 2013
Other than agreeing with all other reviews that this cd is a great listen, my knowledge of Sonny Rollins is limited - nowhere near what has already been posted here. So just to confirm that the arrangements with Sonny on sax, and Jim Hall and Bob Cranshaw on strings with Harry T Saunders on drums, add to a great jazz listening experience. I love listening to this first thing in the morning getting ready for the day ahead.
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on 5 May 2012
This album was a result of Rollin's famous sabbatical where he sought to hone his improvisational skills by rehearsing on the bridge over the East River in NYC and trascend the confines of Hard Bop that defined much of the best jazz of the 1950's. Replacing the piano with the guitar of the wonderful Jim Hall, the result opened up the spaces within music and seemed to liberate Sonny not only on this brilliant record but in his approach.

For a record with such a reputation, "The Bridge" is perculiar as it sounds so timeless and transcends the era in which it was recorded. Small wonder that newer generations of jazz musicians have taken influence from this record. Backed by mainstay Bob Cranshaw's bass and Ben Riley on drums ( bar a track with Harry Saunders), the disc consists 2/3rds standards and two originals who share snakey, convoluted heads that demonstrate just how much the leader was aware of the work of Ornette Coleman who was then revolutionising jazz. That said, the solos laid down by both Rollins and Hall are models of creativity and logic which will appeal to fans of more Mainstream jazz through to contemporary styles.

The surprising thing about "The Bridge" is that is does not break any new ground and did not usher in a new jazz movement or define group jazz in the way that Coltranes' quartet or Miles' second , great quintet both did. Instead, this is a benchmark of great improvising and opened the door for the kind of approach than ensured Sonny Rollins reputation as one of the greatest improvisers in music. Put simply, this is just great jazz. Backed by a great rhythm team, this disc exudes the warmth and humanity that is so typical of Sonny Rollins' work. Not only is "The bridge" an essential in any jazz collection but is is also hugely listenable too. The only disappointment is that the inspired partnership of Rollins and Jim Hall never met up again in the studio.
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We all know the story of Rollins who went into retreat in 1959 later to emerge as a new man with a new sound. During his sabbatical (thanks to an understanding wife) he spent his nights alone on the Williamsburg bridge in New York playing to the gulls. He was trying to find himself musically, not that the former version was any slouch. It seems to me that the new more confident Rollins had picked up some of Ornette Coleman's traits, along with a more sophisticated tone. This album was the first to be recorded (1962) after the transformation.
Six tracks, enough for a vinyl album, recorded with guitar, bass and drums. The lack of a piano is interesting. This album, appropriately named "The Bridge", is only the start of Rollins development. We wait twelve years for his version of "To A Wild Rose" recorded live at Montreux (on the album "The Cutting Edge") where he shows how he can take a tune, pull it apart note by note and then reassemble it taking solos of great intensity.
The start though is here and from the first notes of "Without A Song" we are mesmerised by the great man. The version of his tune "John S" is another highlight, along with an extremely sensitive version of "God Bless The Child". Although a Rollins showcase (from now on he would not be a sideman; always the main man) the other musicians make a valued contribution especially the guitarist Jim Hall and drummer Ben Riley. Bob Cranshaw is as reliable as ever.
This is an album that every modern jazz fan should have a copy of....for several reasons but mainly because it is good!
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on 10 October 2014
The Bridge satisfies on an emotional and intellectual level. It's interesting to hear Rollins working with guitarist Jim Hall, who does a fantastic job of keeping a level head throughout. Hall demonstrates how to create a complementary, contrasting and non-competitive atmosphere in his solos, which act as an excellent foil to Rollins' bombastic brilliance. The song selection and pacing is good and includes two excellent ballad interpretations of Where Are You and God Bless The Child. A great album, up there with Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, well worth studying by saxophonists and guitarists, and to be enjoyed by everyone else.
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on 15 January 2013
The forever young genius on tenor Saxophone in his most formative years. After a beginning playing like a young god with the self destructive stars of the be bop generation he felt he needed a creative break as a person and as a musician, not smoking, not drinking, not taking drugs. The legend says that for a time a lone saxophone player was practising atop a New York City bridge in the dead of night, withdrawn from the jazz scene. Then in 1962 he climbed down from the bridge and recorded this album for the legendary George Avakian. With Jim Hall on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Ben Riley on drums he recorded - what did i say? - The Bridge, and a few standards and originals like Without a song, You do something to me and God bless the Child. This is so great! Do i need to say moore?
Bo S. Svensson, Lund, Sweden
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on 16 April 2016
This is probably the best album Sonny Rollins ever made.Featuring the legendary Jim Hall on guitar.This is an album every jazz enthusiast should definitely have in their collection.....great stuff!
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