Saxophone Colossus is one of Sonny Rollins’ more acclaimed albums as a leader. Recorded on June 22, 1956, by which time the saxophonist had already been a regular member of the celebrated Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet for half a year. This fact also explains the presence of Roach. Four days later, that group would no longer exist, for on June 26 both Clifford Brown and the band’s pianist Ritchie Powell were killed in a tragic car accident.
Age 26, Rollins was already a well-known jazz fi gure. He had recorded some albums as a leader but, above all, he had been part of one of the most outstanding combos of the period: the Miles Davis Quintet. Saxophone Colossus enjoyed great critical success from the start and helped establish Rollins as a prominent jazz artist. The album presents Rollins leading an all-star quartet that includes pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and, as previously noted, drummer Max Roach.