Sonny Rollins Quartet, Tenor Madness

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 09.10.12 in Reviews

Tenor Madness

Sonny Rollins Quartet

Although it created a buzz within the jazz community at the time, this meeting between Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane a year after the death of Charlie Parker was not the slugfest for saxophone supremacy that might be imagined, given the exalted reputations of the two tenors today. That said, the 13-minute title track is both searing and sublime, less a cutting contest than a mutual desire to uphold an incredibly high standard set by the level of their mutual respect. Both Rollins and ‘Trane are at the top of their hard-bop game, exchanging seven and eight choruses and then steadily whittling it down to a chase, with drummer Philly Joe Jones getting beats in edgewise. The rest of the rhythm section for Miles Davis at the time — Red Garland on piano and bassist Paul Chambers — add smart and nimble support. The rest of the disc, sans Coltrane, is rewarding, especially the closing “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” but inevitably anti-climatic.