Day 28. Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt and Dizzy Gillespie – Sonny Side Up, 1958

I have spent 25 years swithering over whether I like Rollins or Stitt more on “The Eternal Triangle”. The brilliant technical execution of Stitt’s solo (starting 2:55) put me for many years in firmly in the Stitt camp, especially in the way that he’s able to attack those 8th note triplets. It all seems so effortless. But after a while I began to drift towards Rollins’ playing, both in the first solo, but also in the trade-offs starting at 6:21. The playing isn’t as sleek and casually brilliant as Stitt’s, but the materials – the actual melodic shapes and formal patterns – demonstrate such a deep well of musical thinking. Maybe it isn’t the best display of that side of Rollins’, but it’s interesting to hear it side by side with Stitt on this album.

And then there’s the rest of the album. What is it, anyway? Just them showing off? Basically it seems like they’re just saying they can do whatever the hell we want. “Sunny Side of the Street” is this totally charming pop tune, and oh yeah remember how Diz can sing? “After Hours” is a piano-driven, compound-meter blues, a much, much better avenue for Ray and Tommy Bryandt’s playing than “Triangle”. These men were just so monstrously talented.