Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins ‘The Legendary Sessions’ (American Jazz Classics) 2CD 4/5

Gillespie-RollinsThe legendary sessions in question are in fact three original Verve LPs neatly contained on this 2CD set with the rhythm section the same throughout and comprising Ray Bryant on piano, brother Tommy on bass and Charlie Persip on drums. Sonny Stitt performs also, alternating between alto and tenor saxophone. Arguably the strongest of the albums is ‘Sonny Side Up’ which is really an extended jam session that features Sonny Stitt in his prime. Here Gillespie provides vocals on ‘On the sunny side of the street’. Stitt was no Parker clone, however, and had developed his own style which was more of a mellower tone and he was a versatile performer at that, later going on to perform on organ combo and even Latin Jazz albums. On the two duet recording albums with Gillespie and Rollins combining, the original compositions are penned by Gillespie and include two versions of the classic ‘Con Alma’. Two of the lengthiest cuts, ‘The eternal triangle’ and ‘After hours’ impress here. Original liner notes by Nat Hentoff on the first album are faithfully reproduced and there is a new updated review by Alec Rex. Excellent graphics include photos of Gillespie and Rollins at the 1958 Monterrey Jazz Festival.

Tim Stenhouse