Sonny Rollins & Horace Silver Quintet: Zurich 1959

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COMPOSERS: Various composers
ALBUM TITLE: Sonny Rollins & Horace Silver Quintet
WORKS: Zurich 1959
PERFORMER: Sonny Rollins, Junior Cook (sax), Horace Silver (piano), Blue Mitchell (trumpet) etc


Six months after this recording, Rollins embarked on the first of two voluntary sabbaticals. His high ideals and expectations demanded he go ‘into the woodshed’ to refine and advance his music, and his reputation as the premiere modern-jazz saxophone colossus seemed threatened by the rise of John Coltrane. Rollins’s own reservations notwithstanding, his work with this trio was of a very high order, characteristically full of remarkable melodic invention couched in a big, throaty tone (recorded with slightly too much resonance) and springing off from witty and ingenious paraphrases of well-known standards from the classic American Songbook.

To label Silver’s groups ‘all-star’ is almost a tautology. Unswervingly, he nurtured new talent and fostered some of the best work of established figures. These crisp, incisive arrangements of inventive compositions prompt satisfying improvisations. The often under-rated Junior Cook, still in the early days of his 11-year stint with Silver, contributes consistently impressive solos.


Barry Witherden