Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins (with Paul Bley): All the Things You Are

Track

All The Things You Are

Artist

Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)

CD

Sonny Meets Hawk! (RCA 63479)

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Musicians:

Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Paul Bley (piano), Roy McCurdy (drums), Bob Cranshaw (bass).

Composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein III

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Recorded: New York City, July 15, 1963

Albumcoversonnyrollins-colemanhawkins-sonnymeetshawk

Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

The piano solo on this song was my first introduction to Paul Bley's music. When I heard it for the first time (7 years ago or so), it basically changed my life. Many people have spoken about the originality and historical importance of this solo, analyzing it in detail and discussing its far-reaching influence; instead of trying to do something like that, I'll just talk briefly about what it has meant to me personally and why I love it so much.

Like many young musicians today, I came up through the jazz education system. I was a diligent student, so I had learned a fair amount of music theory and had a pretty solid understanding of which notes were "correct" for me to play on one chord progression or another. The three choruses that Bley plays here (sandwiched between a more traditional yet beautifully lyrical solo by Coleman Hawkins and a perhaps slightly self-conscious solo by Sonny Rollins) showed the limitation of those theoretical conceptions, and represented a radically different approach to improvisation, one not about right or wrong. It was a paradigm-shifting moment for me, one which caused me to reevaluate my musical priorities.

In this solo, Bley's melodies roam freely in and out of the written changes, each line unfolding in its own curious way, pursuing its own muse. Yet he’s not just playing “free”; even when he's not using the prescribed chord-scales, he always knows exactly where he is in the form of the song, and his ideas are incredibly coherent—sometimes motivic, sometimes gestural, sometimes playful, always imaginative. I find this solo to be one of the most strangely beautiful moments in the history of recorded jazz, so I really don't want to spoil it by attempting to use any more words to describe what he's doing here. Just listen.

Reviewer: Aaron Parks

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