Jazz 100
Tenor Saxophone
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Body & Soul
Coleman Hawkins
1939-56 [RCA]


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The first tenor to make an indelible mark on the jazz scene, Hawk never lost his touch over more than four decades of recording and performing. This definitive single-CD collection from RCA contains 19 tracks recorded between 1939 and 1956. Contrasting versions of the title track highlight Hawk's ability to move with the times.





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Tenor Madness
Sonny Rollins Quartet
1956 [Prestige]


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Made about the same time as the classic Saxophone Colossus, but with a completely different line-up. John Coltrane is the extra tenor on the classic 12-minute title track (the only record on which he appears with Rollins) and Red Garland plays piano. Not surprisingly, the Paul Chambers/Philly Joe Jones rhythm section is absolutely faultless.





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Saxophone Colossus
Sonny Rollins
1956 [Prestige]


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New kid on the block Rollins was an original from the start. This early record is a jazz masterpiece. Classic original compositions 'St. Thomas' and 'Blue Seven' bookend three other fine tunes, highlighted by drummer Max Roach and pianist Tommy Flanagan faultlessly plying their crafts. Overall, there isn't a wasted moment in sight.





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The Hawk Flies High
Coleman Hawkins
1957 [Riverside]


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A comeback of sorts for the great tenor, which sees him working with some hotshot young guns - including trumpeter Idrees Sulieman and trombonist J.J. Johnson. Playing with artists decades his junior, Hawk more than holds his own - especially on longer tracks 'Juicy Fruit' and 'Sanctity'. The other standout performer is pianist Hank Jones.





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Way Out West
Sonny Rollins
1957 [Contemporary]


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While this is definitely a hard bop record, there are signs Rollins' first trip to the West Coast was kinda cool. No wonder, with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne helping out. Rollins called it 'strolling' - a technique involving the tenor doing some relaxed soloing over the rhythm section in a sparse piano-less improvisation.





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Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster
Gerry Mulligan & Ben Webster
1959 [Verve]


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Aside from being a giant of the baritone sax, Mulligan was a deft arranger of music. He rose to stardom in the early-50s while paired with Chet Baker, but a drug bust put him out of business until his release from jail in 1954. Here he teams with tenor Ben Webster to produce a minor classic. Avoid versions with excessive alternate takes.





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Boss Tenor
Gene Ammons
1960 [Prestige]


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Boss Tenor is the pick of the Prestige albums made by "Jug" Ammons in his prime - recorded during a brief period between two stints in prison for drug-related problems. A capable hard bop tenor with a distinctive tone - here he fronts a proficient rhythm section featuring pianist Tommy Flanagan and Ray Baretto on congas.





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Soul Station
Hank Mobley
1960 [Blue Note]


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While not recognised as one of the masters of the tenor, Mobley was nevertheless a great showman. This exuberant hard bop outing finds him at this best, with outstanding support coming from drummer Art Blakey, bassist Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly on piano. Mobley sandwiches four originals between two intuitively selected standards.


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