Jazz CD Reviews

Sonny Rollins with Thelonious Monk & Kenny Dorham – Moving Out – Prestige

Rollins is always in control.

Published on October 10, 2009

Sonny Rollins with Thelonious Monk & Kenny Dorham – Moving Out  – Prestige

Sonny Rollins with Thelonious Monk & Kenny Dorham – Moving Out  – Prestige PRS-31594 RVG Series – 1954, 31:42 **** [Distrib. by Concord]:

(Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Elmo Hope, piano; Percy Heath, bass; Art Blakey, drums; Thelonious Monk, piano; Tommy Potter, bass; Arthur Taylor, drums)

There’s nothing quite like the sound of control. The first half of Sonny Rollins’ album, Moving Out, has wildly energetic almost frenetic tracks, while the second half has more mournful smooth numbers. Over both extremes Rollins and his group exercise tremendous control and restraint. Rollins plays in a variety of tones and moods, and always manages to hit it just right, never stepping out of the proper speed, pitch, and volume, so as to always maintain the mood.

The album starts at a furious pace with the title track, Moving Out. The rhythm section of Percy Heath and Art Blakey drive the song forward, while Rollins winds around the outer edges of the melody with a dizzying solo. Kenny Dorham, on trumpet, plays in a smaller range and in a very playful manner, and pianist Elmo Hope plays  a solo with an energy close to dance music.

High energy and fast pacing continue on the second track, Swingin’ for Bumsy, again with Heath and Blakey leading the way. Both horns blast in wonderful interaction, while Heath plays with inhuman speed. Hope has another tremendous solo filled with excitement and dynamism.

Silk ‘N’ Satin, the third and best track, slows the session down with a more seductive tone. Rollins’ playing stands out here even more than on other tracks for the amazingly expressive and lyrical playing, displaying astonishing breath and tone control.

Around the 3:00 mark engineer Rudy Van Gelder creates an amazing effect for the horns interaction, with some of the playing sounding like it’s coming from a thousand miles away.

The fourth track, Solid, features a sly solo from Hope and a pulsating drum solo from Blakey. Finally, the album ends with More Than You Know, the longest track on the record. It begins with bass player Tommy Potter’s solo for a wry mysterious opening. Rollins then gives a wonderful patient solo, taking his time to slowly build the mood. When Thelonious Monk follows him on the piano, he plays in and against the melody, throwing dissonant chords as if against the walls of the song. The effect is very poignant, heightening the feeling of loss that is expressed in Rollins’ solo. Near the 8:30 mark, Rollins comes in again, switching tones back and forth as if playing two saxophones.

The album is a full and satisfying emotional experience, covering a variety of different moods and styles. Rollins lead the way on every track, playing with wild abandon on the fast songs, and taking his sweet time on the slow tracks.

Moving Out, Swingin’ For Bumsy, Silk ‘N’ Satin, Solid, More Than You Know

– Ethan Krow

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