Oleo (composition)

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"Oleo" is a hard bop composition by Sonny Rollins, written in 1954. Since then it has become a jazz standard, and has been played by numerous jazz artists, including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans.


"Oleo" is one of a number of jazz standards to feature rhythm changes, one of many contrafacts of George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". Other standards which use rhythm changes include Charlie Parker's "Anthropology", Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts", and Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-Ning".

The A section is transcribed, whilst the B section is left empty either for the performer to improvise in, or for the rhythm section to 'comp' over.


The first version of the song, featuring Rollins, was recorded by Miles Davis in 1954 on the album Bags' Groove. With John Coltrane instead of Rollins on saxophone, it has been recorded again in 1956 on Relaxin'. A live version from 1958, also with Coltrane, appears on two separate Davis albums: 1958 Miles, which was released in late 1958, and Jazz at the Plaza (1973).

Other artists who have made notable recordings of the piece include Michael Brecker, Eric Dolphy, Lee Konitz, Jeff Sipe, Pat Martino, and Larry Coryell.[1]

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