In late 1954 Sonny Rollins recorded the two sessions which resulted in Moving Out. He then went on the first of his famous “sabbaticals,” laying low in Chicago for most of 1955. He emerged with his first acknowledged masterpiece, Saxophone Colossus shortly afterward.
In hindsight, the five tunes that make up Moving Out clearly show the saxophonist as being well on his way to the mastery of Colossus. The quintet that gathered August 19, 1954 would be considered a jazz “supergroup" today.
In addition to Rollins’ sax, there was Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Elmo Hope (piano), Percy Heath (bass) and Art Blakey (drums).
The record opens up with the title cut, “Moving Out.” This is a high-energy number with some great solos by everyone, particularly Elmo Hope. Art Blakey then announces his presence in no uncertain terms to begin “Swingin’ For Bumsey.”
Another up-tempo piece, “Bumsey” introduces one of the most satisfying elements of Moving Out. The way Rollins’ sax and Dorham’s trumpet trade off solos is something to hear.
This methodology becomes even more pronounced on the blues “Solid.” The two horns play in tandem to open up the tune, then wail on their respective solos.
“Silk ‘N’ Satin” is the first track to really explore the full-bodied sound Sonny Rollins later became so famous for. This ballad is almost wholly Rollins, with the rest of the group laying back for the most part, although Hope’s piano does provide a short interlude at one point.
Two months later, on October 25,1954, Rollins went back into Rudy Van Gelder’s studio. He was accompanied on this date by Thelonius Monk (piano), Tommy Potter (bass), and Arthur Taylor (drums).
The majority of these sessions were released on the excellent Thelonius Monk/Sonny Rollins LP. However, one track was selected from them to fill out side two of Moving Out. The ten minute “More Than You Know” is an exquisite piece of music.
After a brief bass intro from Tommy Potter, Sonny’s sax enters. His melancholic lead is riveting for the first 4:30, when it is replaced with the even more introspective piano of Thelonius Monk. The final two minutes of the tune are again taken by Rollins, who winds the song, and the album down in a simply marvelous way.
Moving Out is a great snapshot of where Sonny Rollins was at just prior to his “time out.” It also contains some fine jazz music, state of the art, as a matter of fact, circa 1954.