Big Brass is an appropiate name for the large ensemble arranged and conducted by Ernie Wilkins that accompanies the huge sound of Sonny Rollins. The energy within the leader's gospel-flavored shout "Grand Street" is considerable, while a swinging but no less powerful version of George & Ira Gershwin's "Who Cares" features a choice solo by guitarist Rene Thomas. Also added to this compilation are trio recordings with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Specs Wright, including a brilliant leisurely stroll through "Manhattan," along with Rollins' tour de force unaccompanied tenor sax on "Body and Soul." Another bonus is the presence of four tracks recorded at the Music Inn with three-quarters of the Modern Jazz Quartet (without Milt Jackson); an easygoing version of Rollins' well-known "Doxy" and a tense "Limehouse Blues" are especially noteworthy. The alternate endings to "Grand Street" from the mono version of the original LP and a later reissue LP are included only for the most fanatic completists.
Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass Review
by Ken Dryden