Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State
Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone
Red Garland, piano, Paul Chambers, bass, Philly Joe Jones, drums
John Coltrane guests on “Tenor Madness”
Prestige Records PRLP 7047 – deep groove mono pressing on the “Bergenfield Label,” making this particular LP NOT a first pressing
In the Matrix: PRLP 7047A/B, various letters (AB, sideways C, E) in the dead wax, different on each side
Found online, although oddly enough, the seller resides in Bethel, Connecticut.
As a big fan of jazz and of Sonny Rollins in particular, it’s a little embarrassing that the first time I heard Tenor Madness was when I recently acquired it on a gloriously spotless slab of wax. Needless to say, as cool as it is to hear vinyl originals of your favorite albums which you first encountered on remastered CDs, it’s a truly unique experience to hear classic albums for the first time in the way that it first hit the ears of those who were alive nearly 30 years before I was born. Vinyl really paints a lush picture of Sonny’s tone, a little harder than it became “post-retirement,” bringing forth the drama of his phrasing. He is powerful in a quartet setting, moving mountains with the flick of a finger and a gust of air.
It’s a dimension of soloing that not every player has: drama. Miles had it in spades, of course. Benny Golson, sure. Other players may visit dramatic peaks but few live there. Even Coltrane, sounding muscular and creative as usual, clearly plays second fiddle on the title tune. Sonny’s playing, especially on the second side of this LP, seems to point forward to the Sonny of The Freedom Suite (1958, Riverside) who can light up the 20 minute tour de force A side of that LP, and eventually to the wise and joyous Sonny of The Bridge (1962, RCA) – two records that I own and know very well (though I don’t have The Freedom Suite, just a rather wooden yet powerful sounding Jazzland release called Shadow Waltz (JLP 86, although mine is cataloged as AM 86…not sure why)).
Other reasons why this LP is super rad:
– Paul Chambers gets nearly as much solo time as Red Garland (!) including an arco solo on the last cut.
– Red Garland nicely lays the way for Rollins to be in charge through this date, leaving the bright-lights block chords and tremolo that he is famous for at home.
– This copy has maybe one pop per side and NONE, NONE, NONE of that static-y distortion that I hear on more beat up mono LPs that I’ve acquired over the last 6 months. This record is my vindication, for every time I’ve asked for a partial refund or asked to return a record that I sensed had some groove wear to it. Although there’s a small amount of loud piano attacks that my podunk stereo can’t handle, I get more of a “rumble” than a “shhhh” on this LP, and THAT I can put up with until I upgrade my equipment. Phil 1, online record salespeople 0.
(my cover for this LP has a blank spine and the NYC address on the back…I guess Prestige reused an old cover for this particular pressing.)