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4.6 out of 5 stars
38
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2013
I have found this excellent sounding CD to be perfect for different situations i.e. a great mood lifter for getting the day off to a good start, for playing over a romantic meal, or just plain chilling out too, as I have this morning looking from my bedroom watching the rain fall outside.

I have heard saxophone elements of "St Thomas" somewhere else but I'm not sure where - a film maybe? I am already familiar with Moritat (Mack The Knife) one of Frank Sinatra's most well known songs, and it's lovely to have a jazz instrumental version. "You Don't Know What Love Is" has been excellently covered in previous reviews and is a favourite track of mine from the album. "Strode Road" - another track with familiar sounding elements from where I do not know, and "Blue 7", make up the other sublime tracks on this exceptional cd.

As I started off stating, "Saxophone Colossus" is a great sounding album for so many occasions. Highly recommended.
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on 10 August 2010
For some time now I have been up-dating the best of the vinyl LPs that I bought in the 1960s with CDs. "Saxophone Colossus" is one of those LPs; it is one of the half-dozen or so "must have" recording by Sonny Rollins.
The CD has been re-mastered by Rudy Van Gelder and, even though it was not, in 1956, originally recorded in stereo, it sounds brilliant and crystal clear.
This is a classic recording and, needless to say, Rollins is impressive throughout but particularly on "St. Thomas", "You Don`t Know What Love is", and "Blue 7". Other notable points are the drum solos of Max Roach,the magnificent walking bass of Doug Watkins, and the always reliable piano of Tommy Flanagan.
This is the very best of Rollins in his early period and no self-respecting lover of jazz should be without this CD.
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on 17 August 2015
Colossol
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on 2 June 2001
Rollins recorded extensively in 1956 and committed hours of fantastic music to vinyl for Prestige. His apogee was Colossus. Never mind the lack of irony in the album's title: this was the state of the tenor in 1956. The opening "St. Thomas" is a calypso, performed by Rollins in homage to the music of the Virgin Islands, from which his family came. An opening like that would perhaps lead one to expect a playful record. But what is to come is no mere light-hearted experiment in festivity. Rollins explores territories in which improvisation and composition become indistinguishable.
A now famous analysis by Gunther Schuller of "Blue 7" described Rollins' development of the solo as "thematic": the construction of the solo was derived from elaborate phrasing, building towards greater complexity until final resolution, like a formal composition. Weil and Brecht's "Moritat" (a.k.a. "Mack the Knife") gets an astonishing reading, but the peak of the album's intensity might be the dialogue between Rollins and Max Roach on "Strode Rode". The symbiosis is so complete that one is tempted to regard the relationship as structural. Yet for all these academic observations, few great records in jazz have ever sounded so effortless and uncontrived. That is the triumph of this album. Play it again and again, you'll never get enough.
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on 17 April 2017
Good recording for nostalgia of the 50's era of jazz.
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on 29 June 2014
This version of the album is nearly a SEMI TONE flat to the original recording!! St. Thomas from the original album is played in C ... It is nearly in B on this!!!! It's not even a whole semi tone it's a fraction of one so it is out of tune when transcribed or doubled on an instrument... DO NOT BUY THIS VERSION .... There's a reason it is cheap
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on 17 August 2011
Not a lot you can say about this really. Rollins was (is?) one of the three or four greatest tenormen in the history of the music, and this is generally considered to be his supreme achievement. It was recorded in 1956. Rollins had been recording since 1949, without ever particularly setting the world alight, but this is when it all came good. He is a young man who suddenly realises he can do pretty much anything he wants to on his horn. He plays with the vigour and enthusiasm of youth, taking all manner of chances but succeeding every time. The musical ideas flood out, almost unstoppable.
Of course he has help. Tommy Flanagan on piano is as elegant and melodic as ever, second only, if he was, to Hank Jones. He solos and accompanies perfectly, but always with inner strength. It's not just pretty. Doug Watkins, on bass, provides a powerful heartbeat for the music, and Max Roach, not always my favourite drummer, this time curbs his excesses, and provides a swinging sympathetic accompaniment.
A nicely varied collection of tunes, as well. 'St. Thomas' is an attractive calypso which may or may not have been composed by Sonny, but has become a standard. 'You Don't Know What Love Is' is taken as a ballad but without sentimentality, with a number of quirky lines and quotes from Rollins which add to the individuality of the performance without spoiling a most attractive tune. 'Strode Rode' is fast and at times aggressive. 'Moritat' ('Mack The Knife') guys the song in an opening dance band chorus in 2/4 time but then turns into a subtle and detailed investigation of an interesting tune. The masterpiece is usually said to be 'Blue Seven' in which Rollins indulges in a compelling dismantling and then reconstruction of the tune. All of which sounds a little academic, but it's not. The whole record shows vigour and swing.
One thing to bear in mind. This disc was recorded by Prestige, a small label run on a shoestring by a couple of guys in New York. In the fifties, when they were producing this, they were also recording the best of the MJQ, Coltrane, Monk, Miles, plus lesser heroes such as Mobley, McLean, Donald Byrd and so on. I don't suppose they will benefit when you buy this (which you should) but they do deserve thanks.
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on 15 November 2004
Sonny Rollins may not have quite gained the lasting veneration of his contemporaries Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but, trust me, this is one of the finest jazz albums of all time. Rollins is so completely in control of the tenor sax that on this recording he seems capable of anything. Saxophone Colossus may seem a bit of a self-regarding title but it's more than justified by the invention, bravado and sheer self-confidence of his playing. Of course it helps that he's backed by one of the greatest (and most sympathetic) rhythm sections ever assembled. Tommy Flanagan doesn't waste a note and Max Roach gives the finest exhibition of jazz drumming ever recorded - this is the only album, period, where the drum solos are to be appreciated and not tolerated. There's not a single weak moment, let alone a weak track, on this recording and it seems churlish to pick out highlights but the innovative jazz-calypso of St Thomas grooves like nothing else and the gradual build-up to Blue Seven is my favourite introduction to any track of all time. But the crowning moment for me has to be the ballad 'You don't know what love is' - if you're aware of the lyrics you'll know just how perfectly suited Rollins' bitter and ironic attack on this standard is. If you're looking to get into jazz this recording is the perfect place to start - challenging, stimulating and totally melodic without being in the least bit frightening.
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on 15 November 2004
Sonny Rollins may not have quite gained the lasting veneration of his contemporaries Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but, trust me, this is one of the finest jazz albums of all time. Rollins is so completely in control of the tenor sax that on this recording he seems capable of anything.
Saxophone Colossus may seem a bit of a self-regarding title but it's more than justified by the invention, bravado and sheer self-confidence of his playing. Of course it helps that he's backed by one of the greatest (and most sympathetic) rhythm sections ever assembled. Tommy Flanagan doesn't waste a note and Max Roach gives the finest exhibition of jazz drumming ever recorded - this is the only album, period, where the drum solos are to be appreciated and not tolerated.
There's not a single weak moment, let alone a weak track, on this recording and it seems churlish to pick out highlights but the innovative jazz-calypso of St Thomas grooves like nothing else and the gradual build-up to Blue Seven is my favourite introduction to any track of all time. But the crowning moment for me has to be the ballad 'You don't know what love is' - if you're aware of the lyrics you'll know just how perfectly suited Rollins' bitter and ironic attack on this standard is.
If you're looking to get into jazz this recording is the perfect place to start - challenging, stimulating and totally melodic without being in the least bit frightening.
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on 3 March 2007
Quite simply the best recording Rollins ever made, and that's saying a lot. I heard this as one of my forays into modern jazz back in the 60s and am as delighted and amazed now as then with his inventiveness and his ability to swing like blazes. St Thomas and Strode Road were available on EP in those days, and it's a pleasure to have the other pieces added.

Rollins is the only sax player who can make his instrument moo like a cow - and still sound good.

Flanagan solos and comps very professionally, and even my bete noire, Max Roach, plays with restraint and rhythm.

Buy this with every confidence.
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