Sonny Rollins Solos (Part 1)

Sideman recordings offer substantial insight into the key elements of a player’s style. Submissive to the leader, the sideman has less space to solo and, with that restricted space, must ensure their own contributions deliver the goods: if the leader has delivered their magnum opus, a weak offering on your part will probably remain committed to the master tape for prosperity. See Tommy Flanagan on “Giant Steps”*

The shorter space of time and the pressure to nail it allow us to hear a concentrated distillation of a players style. I have done this before by transcribing all of Kenny Burrell’s solos on Paul Chamber’s Bass On Top record. I am now doing the same for Sonny Rollins and have transcribed 4 of his 7 solos on Max Roach and Clifford Brown’s At Basin Street and offer some analysis at a later date. For now, please feel free to have a look and play through what has been done so far:

Gertude’s Bounce (1956)
Powell’s Prances (1956)
I’ll Remember April (1956)
What Is This Thing Called Love? (1956)

*It’s important to remember that Flanagan was an outstanding pianist of the Detroit school and under no circumstances should his legacy be his weak offering during his second or third pass on one of the most demanding works in the jazz canon.