Home  |  Audio Reviews  Audiophile Shows Partner Mags  News     

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Sonny Clark
Dial S For Sonny
Sonny's Crib

Review By Phil Gold
Click here to e-mail reviewer

Sonny Clark Dial S For Sonny   Sonny Clark Sonny's Crib

LP Numbers: Blue Note 1570 and 1576


  Sonny Clark was Blue Note's house pianist in the late fifties. These two hard bop LP's are among Sonny's first recordings as leader and were originally issued in 1957 on his return from an extended stay on the west coast. Sonny leads a small band on each album but the only common link is Sonny on piano and Curtis Fuller on trombone. Dial S for Sonny features Art Farmer on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax, Wilbur Ware on bass and Louis Hayes on drums. Sonny's Crib features an even more impressive lineup including Donald Byrd on trumpet, John Coltrane on tenor sax, the young Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums.

Classic Records has restored these records to the catalog on high quality 200 gram Quiex Super Vinyl Profile. They are transferred from the original mono master tapes and cut on Classic Records' all tube cutting system by Bernie Grundman. The pressings are uniformly excellent and the sound is clear in the familiar Rudy Van Gelder tradition. The percussion is closely recorded and the piano does not show much variety of tone, but the balance between the instruments is good. Despite a certain lack of presence, there is plenty of warmth and detail to enjoy.

Sonny plays with great freedom of time and form, while never losing the line of the song. On these recordings I much prefer his solos to his work in accompaniment of the other gifted musicians. He shows a lot of creativity in his blues-infused playing with an economy of notes that makes his music making most effective. Nat King Cole did this better than anyone, and I suspect he may have been a source of inspiration for this young pianist.

Dial S For Sonny is the more accessible album, and the title track shows Sonny at his unpredictable best. Hank Mobley matches his style perfectly in this upbeat number. "It Could Happen" To You is a slow brooding ballad that comes across less successfully despite a fine solo from Mobley, ably assisted by soft brushwork from Hayes. "Sonny's Mood" is a showcase for Art Farmer who plays in a wide ranging yet relaxed manner. Mobley develops Farmer's ideas further, with superb support once again from Hayes, who never draws attention to his own playing.

Sonny introduces the up-tempo "Shoutin' On A Riff" and is on top form here. Infectious rhythms abound, and the trumpet, trombone and sax all take lively turns, everyone clearly having a great time. Art Farmer's high-energy solo merits special mention.

"Love Walked In" starts with a Sonny Clark solo with Ware and Hayes providing excellent support. Sonny really knows how to present a song. There is so much going on without any hint of showing off. It's clear we have a major talent here.

Sonny's Crib

The second album Sonny's Crib features John Coltrane but his style seems a touch out of sync at times with the melodic Clark. The most effective performances come from the rhythm section. Art Taylor uses the lightest of touches to propel the music along and Paul Chambers is great in support and sensational in his rare solos. Donald Byrd is in flamboyant form and seems quite attuned to Sonny's style, while Curtis Fuller plays with more invention and a greater sense of ease than on the first album. Sonny shows an even greater freedom and simplicity on this album.

On the first track With "A Song In My Heart" Donald Byrd's extrovert and complex playing is matched by Trane's exuberance. Best of all is the closing sequence where each soloist takes a quick run at the theme in turn which Sonny then caps with a flourish.

Following a brief statement of the theme by Sonny, Kurt Weill's "Speak Low" highlights a bluesy solo from Trane as a centerpiece bookended by latin-influenced unison playing from the combo. "Come Rain" Or Come Shine brings out the best in Curtis Fuller's trombone in his opening solo. For a rather low-key tune, Sonny then finds a great deal of interest and the rhythm section helps him to maintain the long line. Towards the end of this track, we move unexpectedly into the world of Gershwin's "Bess, You Is My Woman Now."

The best is yet to come. The extended title track "Sonny's Crib" is a blues number that starts with the horns playing together. Suddenly Trane takes off in all sorts of directions. Byrd is up next and elicits excellent backing from Chambers and Taylor, who soon break into double time to urge him on. Sonny's contribution here shows a mastery over timing that few others can match. Finally Paul Chambers treats us to a fine bass solo with very nimble pizzicato, simply a joy. "News for Lulu" (Sonny's dog) rounds out the album. Sonny's solo is arresting and he is totally inside this minor key number. Byrd feeds off Sonny's ideas and plays most imaginatively. Coltrane is also energized here and Fuller is in fine form but Chambers steals the show in a quiet way with his short free ranging solo that mirrors Sonny's ideas perfectly.

These are highly enjoyable sessions from the late fifties, a golden age of modern jazz. Set the lights down low, turn up the volume and let this music take you on a sweet ride. Recommended .


Dial S For Sonny



Sound Quality:

Historical Significance:



Sonny's Crib



Sound Quality:

Historical Significance:












































Quick Links

Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews


Enjoy the Music.TV


Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles

Show Reports
Pacific Audio Fest 2022 Report
T.H.E. Show 2022 Report
HIGH END Munich 2022
AXPONA 2022 Show Report
CanJam Singapore 2022 Report
Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022
Florida Audio Expo 2022
AudioCon Los Angeles 2022
Capital Audiofest 2021 Show
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021
T.H.E. Show 2021 Report
The HiFi Summit Q4 2020
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Click here for previous shows.


Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty


Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
The Absolute Sound
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics


Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!




Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2022  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.