For more than six decades, the legendary Sonny Rollins has epitomized style, skill, and musicianship as one of jazz’s leading lights. Though a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis has led the 87-year old Kennedy Center Honoree to hang up his saxophone, he remains active. In the last year alone, he’s donated his personal archives to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and has endowed The Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund at Oberlin College. Touchingly, he revealed to an interviewer in December that “I dedicated my life to my music, and I never got it to where I wanted it to be.” Rollins’ legions of fans would certainly dispute that assessment, however. One of his classic albums from his first decade of recording will be reissued on February 16, as Craft Recordings celebrates the 60th anniversary of Way Out West with a 2-LP slipcased box set adding an entire second album of bonus material.
Originally released in 1957 on the Contemporary label and adorned with a now-iconic William Claxton cover, Way Out West teamed bop innovator Rollins with two musicians with whom he had never played. Yet bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne’s sensibilities melded beautifully with Rollins’ as he employed the technique of “strolling,” or playing over the bass and drums with no pianist providing chords. Way Out West solidified Rollins’ reputation as a remarkable tenor saxophonist as he reinvented standards (“I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Solitude,” “Wagon Wheels,” “There is No Greater Love”) alongside his own original compositions.
Past CD releases have included three alternate takes (“I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Way Out West,” and “Come, Gone”) as bonus tracks. This new vinyl reissue ups the ante by including those as well as four more previously unreleased tracks on a second vinyl LP: two fly-on-the-wall spoken word bits from the studio; an alternate version of “There is No Greater Love,” and Take 1 of “Way Out West.”
This deluxe set boasts a booklet with new liner notes by Neil Tesser, as well as rare shots from original photographer William Claxton. It’s been pressed at Quality Record Pressings on 180-gram vinyl. For those not interested in vinyl, Way Out West will also be available to stream as well as mastered for iTunes and in high-resolution digital (96/24 and 192/24) digital downloads. A CD release is not currently planned. This jazz classic is due in stores on February 16, and can be pre-ordered at the links below!
Original Album (Contemporary C 3530, 1957)
- I’m an Old Cowhand
- Come, Gone
- Wagon Wheels
- There is No Greater Love
- Way Out West
Bonus Tracks from the Way Out West Recording Session
- Monologue: You Gotta Dig the Lyrics (*)
- I’m an Old Cowhand (Alternate Version)
- Dialogue: Titling “Come, Gone” (*)
- Come, Gone (Alternate Version)
- There is No Greater Love (Alternate Version) (*)
- Way Out West (Take 1) (*)
- Way Out West (Alternate Version)
(*) previously unreleased
LP 2, Tracks A2, A4 & B3 previously issued on Way Out West, Contemporary CD OJCCD337-2, 1988