Saxophone Colossus

Label
Lilith Records
Release date
18 Nov 2013
Running length
5 tracks
Running time
40:26

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Tracklist

    Track     Duration Listeners
1 St. Thomas 7:18 138,052
2 You Don't Know What Love Is 6:30 85,501
3 Strode Road 5:15 150
4 Moritat (Mack the Knife) 10:04 5,890
5 Blue 7 11:19 47,954

About this album

Saxophone Colossus is one of Sonny Rollins’ most acclaimed albums. Recorded and released in 1956, it is widely considered the masterpiece of his mid-1950s series of recordings for Prestige.

There are five tracks on the album, three of which are credited to Rollins. “St. Thomas” is a calypso-inspired piece named after Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The tune is traditional and had already been recorded by Randy Weston in 1955 under the title “Fire Down There”. (In the booklet provided with the boxed set, The Complete Prestige Recordings, Rollins makes it clear that it was the record company that insisted on his taking credit. ) In any case, the piece has since become a jazz standard, and this is its most famous recorded version.

“You Don’t Know What Love Is” is a ballad standard by Don Raye and Gene DePaul, given a distinctively bleak treatment by Rollins. “Strode Rode” is an up-tempo hard bop number, notable for its staccato motif and for a brief, high-spirited duet between Rollins and Doug Watkins on bass. The tune is named after the Strode Hotel in Chicago, in tribute to the ill-fated trumpeter Freddie Webster, who died there.

The second side of the original LP consists of two longer cuts, both in B flat. “Moritat” is another standard, a song from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, better known in English as “Mack the Knife”. The album’s liner notes point out that the Brecht–Weill musical was enjoying a surge of popularity at the time of the recording.

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