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Sonny Rollins transcriptions

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1949

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Bee Jay (May 11, 1949)

Recorded by J.J. Johnson (trombone) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) John Lewis (piano) Gene Ramey (bass) Shadow Wilson (drums) in NYC. Sonny Rollins is a sideman on this session, it is one of his first ever recorded tracks and he already shows what he is to become! Nice fluent bebop lines inspired by Charlie Parker.

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Audubon (May 11, 1949)

Recorded by J.J. Johnson (trombone) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) John Lewis (piano) Gene Ramey (bass) Shadow Wilson (drums) in NYC. Same session as before, Sonny is in a great form here!

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Goof Square (May 11, 1949)

Recorded by J.J. Johnson (trombone) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) John Lewis (piano) Gene Ramey (bass) Shadow Wilson (drums) in NYC. Same session as before!

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Elysees (May 26, 1949)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (tp) J.J. Johnson (tb) Sonny Rollins (ts) John Lewis (p) Leonard Gaskin (b) Max Roach (d) in New York City. It is Sonny’s 4th recording session and he is 18 years old at this time.

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Hi-Lo (May 26, 1949)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) J.J. Johnson (trombone) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) John Lewis (piano) Leonard Gaskin (bass) Max Roach (drums) in New York City. This is again one of the first sessions of Sonny Rollins and it is J.J.Johnson’s date. Sonny plays a good bebop solo a’la Bird.

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Opus (May 26, 1949)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) J.J. Johnson (trombone) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) John Lewis (piano) Leonard Gaskin (bass) Max Roach (drums) in New York City. This is again one of the first sessions of Sonny Rollins and it is J.J.Johnson’s date. This song vaguely reminds me of the harmony Sonny used for his own tune Airegin – exactly as the second A of that tune, same key, and even tempo.

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Wail (August 9, 1949)

Recorded by Fats Navarro (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes (d) in WOR Studios, NYC. It is one of first Sonny’s sessions and he is already showing that he is to become one of the greatest tenormen of all times.

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Bouncing With Bud (August 9, 1949)

Recorded by Fats Navarro (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes (d) in WOR Studios, NYC.
A famous Rollins solo, he begins with one of his trademarks – fast arpeggio/blur of notes, leading to the high register. The same session as previous one, with Bud Powell.

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52nd Street Theme (August 9, 1949)

Recorded by Fats Navarro (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes (d) in WOR Studios, NYC. Last of the same session with Bud Powell. Sonny shows a great amount of fire and energy in his solo. And not to forget that he was still only 18 at this time…

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1951

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Whispering (January 17, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Bennie Green (tb) Sonny Rollins (ts) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Roy Haynes (d) in Apex Studios in New York City. It is a part of Miles Davis’ recording session and Sonny gets 1 solo chorus – he heavily utilizes lydian dominant scales throughout.

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I Know (January 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Miles Davis (p) Percy Heath (b) Roy Haynes (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.
Sonny’s take on the “Confirmation” harmony, with Miles Davis comping at the piano!

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Morpheus (January 17, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Bennie Green (tb) Sonny Rollins (ts) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Roy Haynes (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.

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Down (January 17, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Bennie Green (tb) Sonny Rollins (ts) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Roy Haynes (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.

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Half Nelson (live) (June 2, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) J.J. Johnson (tb) Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) live at “Birdland”, NYC.

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Denial (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City, again as a part of Miles Davis’ session.

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Bluing (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City, again as a part of Miles Davis’ session.

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Conception (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City, again as a part of Miles Davis’ session.

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Out Of The Blue (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City, again as a part of Miles Davis’ session.

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Dig (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d), in Apex Studios in New York City. It’s a part of the same session, but in this tune, Sonny gets a lot more solo space, starting as the first soloist and playing for full 4 choruses.

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It’s Only a Paper Moon (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.

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My Old Flame (October 5, 1951)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.

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Newk’s Fadeaway (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City. It is Sonny’s first recording session as a leader of his own quartet and he is featured as the main soloist.

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On A Slow Boat To China (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City. It is Sonny’s first recording session as a leader of his own quartet and he is featured as the main soloist.

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Scoops (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in New York City. It is Sonny’s first recording session as a leader of his own quartet and he is featured as the main soloist.

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Mambo Bounce (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in NYC.

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Time On My Hands (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in NYC. Played as a ballad this is a perfect feature for Sonny.

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This Love Of Mine (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Drew (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d) in Apex Studios in NYC. Played as a ballad this is a perfect feature for Sonny.

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Shadrack (December 17, 1951)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Kenny Drew (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Art Blakey (drums) in Apex Studios, NYC. An old tune, maybe not even a jazz standard, done already by Louis Armstrong, arranged here by Sonny Rollins into a brand new masterpiece. Sonny skillfully utilizes major sixths in minor chords here!

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1953

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Compulsion (January 30, 1953)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) in WOR Studios in New York City. This session is specific for featuring 2 tenors – Sonny and Charlie Parker. Sonny’s solo is the first one after Miles.

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The Serpent’s Tooth #1 (January 30, 1953)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) in WOR Studios in New York City. Same session as the previous one – it is special by using 2 tenors, Sonny and Charlie Parker. Again, Sonny’s solo is the first one after Miles.
“At 3:03 Sonny Rollins offers a direct challenge to Charlie Parker, with a quote from Irving Berlin’s ‘Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)’.” JckDupp, youtube 

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The Serpent’s Tooth #2 (January 30, 1953)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins (ts) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Percy Heath (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) in WOR Studios in NYC. This is a second take of the great meeting of 2 saxophonist – Bird and Newk. Sonny solos 1st after Miles.

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The Stopper (October 7, 1953)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Milt Jackson (vib) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d) in NYC. It is part of session Sonny Rollins with the Modern Jazz Quartet.

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Almost Like Being In Love (October 7, 1953)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Milt Jackson (vibraphone) John Lewis (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in New York City. This session features Sonny with the Modern Jazz Quartet. A great point for me happens around 0:51, in the second A of the first chorus of Rollins’ solo, where he and the pianist play a certain phrase almost as if practiced before, it just shows one of those beautiful coincidences that jazz creates!

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Let’s Call This (November 13, 1953)

Recorded by Julius Watkins (French horn) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Thelonious Monk (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Willie Jones (drums) in NYC. Very interesting session, where Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk arrived one hour late, claiming that their taxi collided with a police car, Ray Copeland got flu and had to be substituted and there was a completely new drummer Willie Jones, who Monk decided to use against all odds. What came out of it, is very interesting and certainly pleasant to listen to!

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Friday the 13th (November 13, 1953)

Recorded by Julius Watkins (French horn) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Thelonious Monk (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Willie Jones (drums) in NYC. Very interesting session, where Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk arrived one hour late, claiming that their taxi collided with a police car, Ray Copeland got flu and had to be substituted and there was a completely new drummer Willie Jones, who Monk decided to use against all odds. What came out of it, is very interesting! This song is over 10 minutes long, as there was not enough material to be put on the album, so the producer was showing the musicians to go on and not finish for a LONG time. It must have been quite comical!

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1954

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I’ll Take Romance (January 20, 1954)

Recorded by Art Farmer (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. This is the only session of Sonny with Art Farmer and the two get together beautifully. The harmony features a little hint of later Coltrane substitutions, where it utilizes Dmaj7, F7 (instead of B7), and sometimes also Bb7 (instead of E-7) before it comes to A7 and back to Dmaj7. It is certainly a nice vehicle for improvisation!

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Soft Shoe (January 20, 1954)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Milt Jackson (vib) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, as a part of Art Farmer Quintet session.

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Confab In Tempo (January 20, 1954)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (ts) Milt Jackson (vib) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, as a part of Art Farmer Quintet session.

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Oleo (June 29, 1954)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. This is Miles Davis session which features first of Sonny’s famous compositions. The story goes that Rollins did not have those finished when he brought them to the recording session and kept working on them in the corner until finished – then the band got the arrangement and recorded them. All of the three became famous jazz standards!

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Airegin (June 29, 1954)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. This is Miles Davis session which features first of Sonny’s famous compositions, Oleo, Airegin and Doxy.

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Doxy (June 29, 1954)

Recorded by Miles Davis (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Horace Silver (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack. One of outstanding Rollins’ compositions, which is now considered a jazz standard.

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But Not For Me – Take 1 (June 29, 1954)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. This is the first of the 2 takes on But Not For Me, slightly slower, Sonny’s solo starts at 2:23 and is nicely executed. Especially listen for the laid-back style of playing slightly behind time!

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But Not For Me – Take 2 (June 29, 1954)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. This is the second of the 2 takes on But Not For Me, slightly faster, Sonny’s solo starts at 2:03 and is a bit more rough than the first take. He plays some more modern phrases and gets a little bit more loose here!

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Movin’ Out (August 18, 1954)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Elmo Hope (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Art Blakey (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.

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Solid (August 18, 1954)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Elmo Hope (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Art Blakey (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.

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Swingin’ For Bumsy (August 18, 1954)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Elmo Hope (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Art Blakey (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.

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I Want To Be Happy (October 25, 1954)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Thelonious Monk (piano) Tommy Potter (bass) Art Taylor (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. Rollins’ session as leader, with Thelonious Monk on piano. It is a nice rendition of this famous jazz standard and Sonny plays stunning several choruses of beautiful lines!

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1956

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Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (February 16, 1956)

Recorded by Clifford Brown (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Richie Powell (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC.
The head is in 5/4!

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Love Is A Many Splendored Thing take 2 (February 16, 1956)

Recorded by Clifford Brown (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Richie Powell (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC.
The head is in 5/4!

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In Your Own Sweet Way (March 16, 1956)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Tommy Flanagan (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Art Taylor (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. Great arrangement for this Brubeck tune, with an early moral type pedal interlude between soloists. Sonny plays a stunning solo, with several modern elements, such as utilizing f# a# c# over E7 and e g# b over A minor etc. During the pedal he quotes standard Dearly Beloved. I wonder who he was thinking about!

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Vierd Blues (March 16, 1956)

Recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Tommy Flanagan (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Art Taylor (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ. The name “vierd” comes from a strange pronunciation of word “verdict”.

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Valse Hot (March 22, 1956)

Recorded by Clifford Brown (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Richie Powell (p) George Morrow (b) Max Roach (d) in NYC. One of the great Brown & Roach Quintet recordings. And it is in 3/4 time!

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I Feel A Song Comin’ On (March 22, 1956)

Recorded by Clifford Brown (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Richie Powell (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC. Sonny plays the first solo in this crazy tempo of 334 beats per minute and utilizes quarter notes, by which he creates a sense of amazing space in this up tempo craze.

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Count Your Blessings (March 22, 1956)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Richie Powell (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC. Part of session with Clifford Brown, but in this one Sonny is the only horn. Richie Powell plays beautiful phrases during his solo and Rollins leads us through this peaceful song with a lot of skill!

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Paul’s Pal (May 24, 1956)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Red Garland (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) in NJ.

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Tenor Madness (May 24, 1956)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) Red Garland (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) in NJ. The only session of two giants – Rollins and Coltrane!

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Saint Thomas (June 22, 1956)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Tommy Flanagan (piano) Doug Watkins (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NJ.

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Mr X (September 17, 1956)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Ray Bryant (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC.

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Ezz-thetic (September 19, 1956)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Ray Bryant (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC.

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Woody ‘N You (September 19, 1956)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Ray Bryant (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in NYC.

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1957

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Love Letters (March 18, 1957)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Bill Wallace (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA.

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Lover (March 21, 1957)

Recorded by Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Bill Wallace (piano) George Morrow (bass) Max Roach (drums) in Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA.

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Toot, Toot, Tootsie (June 12, 1957)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Sonny Clark (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Roy Haynes (drums), at Reeves Sound Studios, NYC.
A beautiful, typical Rollins solo. Part of his recording on his album as leader, called The Sound of Sonny.
Check out the great Roy Haynes on drums and how he complements Rollins’ playing!

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Last Time I Saw Paris (June 19, 1957)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Paul Chambers (bass) Roy Haynes (drums) at Reeves Sound Studios, NYC. One of the great tracks and Sonny Rollins’ pianoless trios – the whole song is played without piano and shows Sonny strolling his way through some great changes. Especially the tritone substitution ii-V creates a great vehicle for Newk to go out of the changes and back in. Check it out!

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Bye Bye Blackbird (July 13, 1957)

Jazz solo transcription of saxophonist Sonny Rollins, recorded as a radio broadcast by Miles Davis (trumpet) Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Red Garland (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Art Taylor or Philly Joe Jones (drums) at Cafe Bohemia, NYC.

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Blues For Philly Joe (September 22, 1957)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Wynton Kelly (piano) Doug Watkins (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.

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Surrey With A Fringe On Top (September 22, 1957)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Wynton Kelly (piano) Doug Watkins (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) in Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ.

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Eternal Triangle (December 19, 1957)

Recorded by Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Sonny Stitt (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Ray Bryant (p) Tommy Bryant (b) Charlie Persip (d) in NYC. It features the most famous battle between Rollins and Stitt, which together with their own solos lasts almost 10 minutes. This is a must hear for everyone! The transcription features Rollins’ and Stitt’s solos as well as their trading of fours and eights!

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I Know That You Know (December 19, 1957)

Recorded by Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Sonny Stitt (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Ray Bryant (p) Tommy Bryant (b) Charlie Persip (d) in NYC.

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On The Sunny Side Of The Street (December 19, 1957)

Recorded by Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Sonny Stitt (as) Sonny Rollins (ts) Ray Bryant (p) Tommy Bryant (b) Charlie Persip (d) in NYC.

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1959

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Another Me, Another You (March 4, 1959)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Henry Grimes (bass) Pete LaRoca (drums) in radio broadcast, Stockholm, Sweden.

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1966

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Love Walked In (November 12, 1966)

Recorded by Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone) Jymie Merritt (bass) Max Roach (drums) in broadcast, Graz, Austria.

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