Although he was only 25-years old, by the time he
recorded “Work Time” on December 2, 1955, Sonny Rollins
was well on his way to becoming one of the major tenor
saxophonists of the day. When I listened to the five
tracks on this digitally remastered CD from 1982, I could
see why he deserved the attention. His full, rich tone,
legendary improvisational skills, and trademark touches
of wit and humor were already evident.
At the time of this recording, Rollins (1930 – ), drummer
Max Roach and trumpeter Clifford Brown had logged
considerable playing time together, as a part of
their famous quintet. The group then relocated to
New York where as a bandleader, Rollins used the rhythm
nucleus of Max Roach’s group to record “Work Time,”
along with other discs. In fact, this was one of Rollins’
earliest records with his own group.
The songs on “Work Time” range from traditional numbers,
such as “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” taken
here at breakneck speed, to “Raincheck” by Billy Strayhorn,
thereby demonstrating that Rollins had a respect for Jazz
traditions. One of his own compositions, “Paradox,” was
also included on this disc, as well as “There Are Such
Things,” which Frank Sinatra sang with Tommy Dorsey.
The playlist was completed with “It’s All Right With Me.”
Along with Rollins, Max Roach (1924-2007) was
particularly impressive, playing with a sense of finesse
and musicality solidifying his standing as one of the
all-time great Jazz drummers. In fact, Roach would
play with Rollins numerous times during the 1950’s,
which would prove to be an ideal partnership.
This observation isn’t to slight the contributions of
pianist Ray Bryant or bassist George Morrow, both of
whom perform admirably. It’s just that Rollins and
Roach are clearly the “stars” of the session.
This 33-minute CD was a pleasure to hear, and
provided an example of Sonny Rollins’ ability to program
a nice variety of songs to play. At age 25, he was
already one of the greats, even though the general
Jazz community and record-buying public may not have
been aware of it yet!