With the Oscar Peterson Trio
Lester Young ("the Prez") is a much debated figure, with many saying the influential tenor had well and truly lost it after a stint in the army near the end of World War II. Despite drug and alcohol problems adding to the quandary, pianist Oscar Peterson's presence seems to have provided the inspiration for the tenor's superb performance here.
Sonny Side Up
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & Sonny Stitt
A good old-fashioned jam session with Diz reportedly fanning the flames of tenor combat with a few strategically placed phone calls beforehand. Stitt tries to steamroll Rollins with some ferocious blowing on the album's three extended jams. Rollins doesn't take the bait, however, taking a melodically focused approach to every note played.
Way Out West
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.
Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster
Coleman Hawkins & Ben Webster
Two giants of the tenor saxophone amiably face off in a contest of styles in the battle of the best. The result is a draw with both pushing each other to the balladeering limit. The opening track 'Blues for Yolande' is a Coleman Hawkins composition that really gets things going. The cruisy 'La Rosita' has a catchy Latin tinge to it.
Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson
Ben Webster & Oscar Peterson
Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson gets a credit, but this is really tenor Ben Webster's show through and through. Peterson reigns in his sometimes busily frenetic style to fit the laid back feel of the set, with Ray Brown on bass gluing it all together. A good destination for anyone looking for a good place to start with Webster.
1962 [Blue Note]
For about half a century Gordon churned out some of the best tenor sax around. This is his most popular record still in print. Those who go for Go! will discover all the energetic spine and bristle that make this man's boppin' a joy to behold. Sonny Clark's piano provides capable support on a solid effort from start to finish. Recommended.
1962 [RCA Bluebird]
After three years in self-imposed exile, Rollins returned with this impressive comeback effort. Ostensibly named for the time he spent "practising" on the Williamsburg Bridge, the record features a non-traditional quartet with guitarist Jim Hall. The riveting hard bop includes standout tracks 'Without a Song' and 'God Bless the Child'.
Speak No Evil
1964 [Blue Note]
One listen and it is obvious Shorter's tag as just another Coltrane clone was wide of the mark. Evil features a swag of the tenor's highly inventive originals, his saxophone managing the occasional angular diversion without ever losing an innate sense of melody. Pianist Herbie Hancock and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard shine throughout.
Rip, Rig and Panic
Blind multi-instrumentalist and political activist Rahsaan Roland Kirk may have died somewhat prematurely, but he didn't fail to leave his indelible mark on the jazz world before he went. This single CD has two of his finest - Rip, Rig and Panic featuring Kirk's tenor being generally regarded as one of his best. Edith is one of RRK's more melodic outings.
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