Tag Archives: jazz albums

Freedom Suite

The history of Sonny Rollins’ jazz classic

by Marshall Bowden

In 1956 Sonny Rollins was one of the best-known tenor saxophonists in jazz, released two classic jazz albums, Saxophone Colossus and Tenor Madness. In the following two years, freed from his Prestige Records contract, Rollins set about making some great records that were released on a variety of labels, including Riverside, Contemporary, and Period. He released Way Out West and worked with Thelonious Monk.

Yet, even as his career ascended he faced the specter of racism when he attempted to rent an apartment in New York City. “Here I had all these reviews, newspaper articles and pictures,” Rollins later said. “At the time it struck me, what did it all mean if you were still a nigger, so to speak? This is the reason I wrote the suite.”

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Sonny Rollins: Plus 4

1956 was a hell of a year for Sonny Rollins. Having already recorded a number of memorable dates for the Prestige label, both as a leader and a sideman, ’56 saw the recording of Rollins sessions that became the albums Saxophone Colossus and Tenor Madness, as well as Sonny Rollins Plus 4, which has been reissued as one of Prestige’s Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series.

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