HANDY WITH AXES:

Tenor Madness: Sonny Rollins Quartet (J Hunter, All About Jazz)

He wasn’t scheduled to play, but John Coltrane had his axe in hand when he came to watch Miles Davis’ rhythm section record with Sonny Rollins. Trane not only played on the date, but the resulting duet is the centerpiece of Tenor Madness, one in Prestige’s latest series of RVG-remastered releases.

Theoretically, Coltrane’s appearance on the title track should be legendary—Saxophone Colossus meets Interstellar Space, in a way. However, this was 1956: Kind of Blue was still three years away, and Trane’s historic Impulse! recordings were not yet even in the realm of possibility. In short, Coltrane had not found the voice that called us to worship on “Transcendence” and mesmerized the Vanguard with the stream-of-consciousness “Chasin’ the Trane.”

That said, Coltrane’s fearlessness is front and center as he takes the first solo, firing flurries and fusillades from the high end of his tenor sax. He is definitely on his game for the time. He’s a willing teammate as he trades fours with Rollins on an ending dialogue where the two players happily finish each other’s thoughts.

One Response to HANDY WITH AXES:

  1. Foos says:

    Interesting piece about a great record. As always, though, I wonder the world would be as fascinated with Rollins had he
    died in his 40’s; and how we’d treat Coltrane if he were still with us.

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