Sonny Rollins – The Standard Sonny Rollins

  • This superb original stereo pressing of The Standard Sonny Rollins from 1965 boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Once again the brilliant engineering of Ray Hall for RCA conveys the vitality of live music for these sessions (which were undoubtedly recorded live)
  • Includes superstars like Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, and Bob Cranshaw, who’ve lent their talents to some of the greatest jazz recordings of all time
  • Allmusic user rating: 4 stars – “Like The Sound Of Sonny some eight years ago, here’s another classic standard album from The Saxophone Colossus that will remain as bright and timeless as ever.”

This original stereo RCA pressing from 1965 has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, and the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of The Standard Sonny Rollins have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on The Standard Sonny Rollins

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the Jim guitar, Herbie piano, Sonny’s horn and Mickey and Stu’s drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Herbie Hancock – piano 
Jim Hall – guitar 
David Izenzon – bass 
Teddy Smith – bass 
Bob Cranshaw – bass 
Stu Martin – drums 
Mickey Roker – drums


Side One

Autumn Nocturne 
Night And Day 
Love Letters 
My One And Only Love 
Three Little Words

Side Two

Trav’lin’ Light 
I’ll Be Seeing You 
My Ship 
It Could Happen To You 
Long Ago (And Far Away)

Amazon Review

Just as Sonny Rollins maintained his top position along with John Coltrane, Tubby Hayes, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Stanley Turrentine, among others, as one of the premier tenor saxophonists of there generation, he had managed to put out yet another successful ‘standard’ album in 1965 which again found him in absolute top format.

Beginning with its solid version on Harlem Nocturne, the first class track set then conclude with style and definition on other classic Tin Pan Alley- era hits like Night And Day, his stirring take on Love Letters, My One And Only Love, Travelin’ Light, I’ll Be Seeing You, My Ship and When You Wish Upon A Star until ending with a 12-minute alternate take on Travelin’ Light. Proudly re-mastered in it’s expanded edition, the spotlight for The Standard Sonny Rollins can be significantly owed to Rollins’ tenor saxophone stylings, as well as solos from Herbie Hancock at the piano and Jim Hall guitar virtuosity (check out one performance from Hancock and Hall performing together) while the bass-drum background rhythm adds up to the flawless easy-going musicianship. Like The Sound Of Sonny some eight years ago, here’s another classic standard album from The Saxophone Colossus that will remain as bright and timeless as ever.

-RH, Amazon Reviewer