One of the most iconic and enduring records in jazz is celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2017, “Way Out West”, which alongside “Saxophone Colossus”, cemented Sonny Rollins’ place as one of the top tenor saxophonists of all-time.
The great Sonny Rollins gave Music Republic Magazine a wonderful in-depth and candid interview which we published in two parts when we launched in December 2016 and early 2017.
We named Sonny as our “Lifetime Achievement” recipient, in our current “Best Of 2017” round-up feature and end of year awards. See the interview x 2 and the Lifetime Achievement nod in our Features Zone.
So the man is very topical right now……….more good news…………….
On February 16th 2018, Craft Recordings will release a deluxe edition of “Way Put West”. A meticulously compiled package paying appropriate tribute to the importance of the landmark recording, with an audiophile-quality pressing of the original album, and a second LP of bonus material featuring rare and previously unreleased tracks from the legendary session.
Both records are pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP) on 180-gram vinyl. Grammy-winning writer Neil Tesser contributes liner notes, which include excerpts from a recent interview he conducted with Spnny Rollins especially for this release.
Rare photos by famed jazz photographer William Claxton round out the collection, which comes housed in a handsome hinged box. “Way Out West (Deluxe Edition)”, will also be available at streaming outlets, mastered for iTunes, and in Hi-Res digital, on street date.
Over his long and distinguished career, Sonny Rollins has made many dozens of albums. Among those recorded during the 50’s – Prestige’s “Saxophone Colossus”, Blue Note’s “A Night at the Village Vanguard”, Riverside’s “The Sound of Sonny”, and especially “Way Out West”, originally recorded for the Contemporary label – qualify as all-time Rollins classics.
The session for “Way Out West”, Rollins’s first ever in California, was called for at 3 a.m. to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules and included bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne. Sonny, who could never be accused of overstatement, announced after four hours of recording: “I’m hot now.”
What transpired on the date was nothing less than magic, with Brown and Manne effortlessly supporting Rollins and pushing him to new peaks on “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande),” “Way out West,” “There Is No Greater Love,” and “Come, Gone,” a cookin’ take on the timeless ballad “After You’ve Gone.”
Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7th, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor and fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.
He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Sonny quickly separated himself from the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.
Rollins throughout his long and decorated career released a series of landmark recordings, several of which would change the shape of jazz: “Valse Hot” introduced the practice, now common, of playing bop in 3/4 meter; “St. Thomas” initiated his explorations of calypso patterns; and “Blue 7” was hailed by Gunther Schuller; as demonstrating a new manner of “thematic improvisation,” in which the soloist develops motifs extracted from his theme.
“Way Out West” (1957), Rollins’s first album using a trio of saxophone, double bass, and drums, offered a solution to his longstanding difficulties with incompatible pianists. During the years 1956 to 1958, Rollins was widely regarded as the most talented and innovative tenor saxophonist in jazz.
He has since gone on to win numerous awards, including his first performance Grammy for “This Is What I Do” (2000), and his second for 2004’s “Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert)”, in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category (for “Why Was I Born”). In addition, Sonny received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2004.
His continued advocacy for jazz music has earned him recognition of the highest order throughout his exemplary career including, induction into the Academy of Achievement (2006), the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class (2009), membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010) and the Edward MacDowell Medal (2010)
The Medal of Arts (2011), was bestowed upon him by President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. Rollins accepted the award, the nation’s highest honour for artistic excellence, “on behalf of the gods of our music.”
On December 3rd, 2011 Sonny Rollins received Kennedy Center honors, alongside actress Meryl Streep, singer Barbara Cook, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Rollins said of the honor, “I am deeply appreciative of this great honor. In honouring me, the Kennedy Center honors jazz, America’s classical music. For that, I am very grateful.”
Released earlier this year, Craft Recordings also put out “Saxophone Colossus”, in 180-gram vinyl pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP) from lacquers cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio from the original master tapes and housed in a single-pocket old-school style tip-on jacket with hi-gloss cover.
Disc One – Original “Way Out West” Album
A1. I’m an Old Cowhand
A3. Come, Gone
B1. Wagon Wheels
B2. There Is No Greater Love
B3. Way Out West
Disc Two – Bonus Tracks from the “Way Out West” Recording Session
A1. Monologue: You Gotta Dig the Lyrics (previously unreleased)
A2. I’m An Old Cowhand (alternate version)
A3. Dialogue: Titling “Come, Gone” (previously unreleased)
A4. Come Gone (alternate version)
B1. There Is No Greater Love (alternate version, previously unreleased)
B2. Way Out West (take 1, previously unreleased)
B3. Way Out West (alternate version)