Way Out West (Sonny Rollins album)

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Way Out West
Sonny Rollins-Way Out West (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
RecordedMarch 7, 1957
Contemporary Records Studio
(Los Angeles)
GenreHard bop
C 3530
ProducerLester Koenig
Sonny Rollins chronology
Sonny Rollins, Vol. 1
Way Out West
Sonny Rollins, Vol. 2

Way Out West is a 1957 album by Sonny Rollins with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, neither of whom had played or recorded with Rollins before. The music employs a technique called "strolling", used here by Rollins for the first time, in which he would solo over only bass and drums with no pianist playing chords. The recent reissue of the CD has additional takes of three of the songs, including the title track. These additional takes are all about twice as long, containing much longer solos from all three of the members of the band.

In order to fit the recording session into the musicians' busy schedules, it was scheduled "for 3 A.M.", according to the liner notes by producer Lester Koenig: "At 7 A.M., after four hours of intense concentration, during which they recorded half the album, and should have been exhausted, Sonny said, 'I'm hot now.' Shelly who had been up for 24 hours, said, 'Man, I feel like playing.' And Ray, who was equally tired and had a studio call for the afternoon, just smiled."

The picture for the cover, taken by celebrated jazz photographer William Claxton, with the saxophonist dressed in Stetson hat, holster, and horn in place of a pistol, was Rollins' own idea, to celebrate his first trip out West, according to Koenig in the liner notes.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic5/5 stars [1]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[2]
Tom HullA[3]

In his Allmusic review, Scott Yanow wrote: "The timeless Way out West established Sonny Rollins as jazz's top tenor saxophonist (at least until John Coltrane surpassed him the following year). Joined by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, Rollins is heard at one of his peaks".[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)" (Johnny Mercer) – 5:42
  2. "Solitude" (Duke Ellington) – 7:52
  3. "Come, Gone" (Sonny Rollins) – 7:53
  4. "Wagon Wheels" (Peter DeRose) – 10:11
  5. "There Is No Greater Love" (Isham Jones) – 5:17
  6. "Way Out West" (Rollins) – 6:30

CD reissue[edit]

When the album was reissued on CD in 1988 (and in subsequent years), some alternate takes were included.
  1. "I'm an Old Cowhand" (Mercer) – 5:40
  2. "I'm an Old Cowhand" [Alternate Take] – 10:06
  3. "Solitude" (Ellington) – 7:49
  4. "Come, Gone"(Rollins) – 7:50
  5. "Come, Gone" [Alternate Take] – 10:27
  6. "Wagon Wheels" (DeRose) – 10:09
  7. "There Is No Greater Love" (Jones) – 5:14
  8. "Way Out West"(Rollins) – 6:28
  9. "Way Out West" [Alternate Take] – 6:36

The 20 bit CD issue groups the alternate takes at the end



  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Way Out West > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 171. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  3. ^ Hull, Tom (n.d.). "Essential Jazz Albums of the 1950s". tomhull.com. Retrieved March 12, 2020.