With cooperation from the Verve and Columbia Legacy catalogs, the Ken Burns Jazz series on CD individually spotlights the musical excellence of 22 jazz originators whose careers and influence are explored in Burns' PBS documentary Jazz. Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins is represented beginning with his composition "Oleo" performed with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1954. Ken Burns Jazz then chronologically (but all too briefly) touches on a few Prestige dates such as "I'm an Old Cowhand" from his inventive 1957 Way Out West album, but includes only one Blue Note date! Rollins also trades licks with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt on the Verve date "I Know That You Know," while "Body and Soul" rounds out his '50s recordings. Rollins' legacy is picked up with "Bridge" from his 1962 comeback album The Bridge, and the CD concludes with "Alfie's Theme Differently" from the 1966 soundtrack Alfie on Impulse. While it's impossible to sum up Rollins' history on a single disc, the highlights here should keep the novice listener interested enough to continue searching out more material. However, there is nothing for the Rollins aficionado in this installment of the Ken Burns Jazz series.
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell