If there ain't a Sonny Rollins thread yet, this could be one

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I never imagined I'd be creating a thread on ILM, and this is likely to be my first and last. I searched and couldn't find a Sonny Rollins thread — Newk turned 76 a couple of days ago, and his website has put up some Google videos for the next few days, in conjunction, I believe, with a new album and the launch of his own label.

The videos (plus a brief rendition of "Happy Birthday"), are here. They are, individually:

Paul's Pal — Stockholm 1957
Weaver of Dreams — Brussels 1959
52nd Street Theme — Rome 1962
Oleo — Copenhagen 1965
Four — Copenhagen 1968
Moritat — Tokyo 1981
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes — Prague 1982
My One and Only Love — Montreal 1982
Serenade — Cerritos, California, April 11, 2006

Henry Rollins could not be reached for comment.

[I pray the HTML gods have been kind with me.]

mark 0 (mark 0), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:44 (thirteen years ago) link

the only music-related rollins i care about.

in the overall rollins ranking system:

sonny rollins>>>>>tree rollins>>>howard rollins jr>>henry rollins

gear (gear), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:54 (thirteen years ago) link


ILM needs you bro! Your move from lurking to posting has brightened my time here considerably. And I did some reading on Ornette after our last conversation, turns out your were right about Atlantic Records relative marketing strenght W/R/T Prestige & Blue Note. Not just jazz either, what you said the other day about the recent trend of overdetermined "popism" reviewing was music to my aging ears.

oh, Sonny Rollins. well I'm not an expert but I love SAXOPHONE COLLUSUS, DON'T STOP THE CARNIVAL, TENOR MADNESS, WAY OUT WEST, EAST BROADWAY RUNDOWN, ALFIE, THE BRIDGE, the live stuff on Blue Note.

don't know his later stuff, but I do like his 1975 fusion album Nucleus. Did anybody see him in New York City last week?

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:56 (thirteen years ago) link

[I pray the HTML gods have been kind with me.]

Very kind. And yes, post more, dammit. (He said, kindly. ;-) )

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Okay, I got the next couple of hours planned out.

100% CHAMPS with a Yes! Attitude. (Austin, Still), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:57 (thirteen years ago) link

(gear ILM needs you too) who the hell are tree & howard jr?

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 9 September 2006 18:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Wayne "Tree" Rollins was one of the best basketball players to come out of Clemson University. Which may not be saying much.

mark 0 (mark 0), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:00 (thirteen years ago) link

howard: star of "ragtime", "a soldier's story", tv show "in the heat of the night", now deceased

gear (gear), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:01 (thirteen years ago) link

I really prefer lurking, 'cos I'm a lazy sod. But I'll post a little more in the future, if time permits.

[xpost to all your kind(ly) words above]

mark 0 (mark 0), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:04 (thirteen years ago) link

thanx for filling the gaps in my cultural knowledge, guys.

like I keep telling my wife, you learn stuff on the internets.

m coleman (lovebug starski), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:09 (thirteen years ago) link

Ride the tubes, dude.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:12 (thirteen years ago) link

thanks for the links

Did anybody see him in New York City last week?

wasn't it raining hyenas and chimpanzees? he's around in April, I think.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:12 (thirteen years ago) link

Sonny is prob my favorite jazz saxophonist. No one is as lyrical and melodically inventive every time they perform...Village Vanguard live CDs are must own. I saw him live myself about 4 years ago and it was easily one of the best concerts I've ever seen in my life - at the end he did this endless solo and never repeated himself once. My friend and I had a blast, listening and reacting ("OHSHIT!") every time he would tweak the melodic line in an unexpected way, twisting yr expectations, front like he was going to go one way and break in the other direction. It must have gone on for a half an hour; i was rapt, and when i talked to another friend who was there, and she said "God that last song was so boring," and even though it seems obvious that not everyone is going to get as much out of a Rollins solo as I do it sort of stopped me in my tracks, like a totally unexpected slap in the face! I just said, 'hah, yeah that was a long one....' Anyway, Early on in his career he must have tapped into some hidden well of inspiration and its just flowed from him since. Not that he hasn't had some ehhh recordings, but solo for solo when he is on he is ON.

deej.. (deej..), Saturday, 9 September 2006 19:15 (thirteen years ago) link

Also, "G-Man" is pretty amazing. Rollins is such an intellectual artist. Was he ultimately as forward-looking--given his boundaries--as Miles, ultimately? I mean did he ever fusion out like Wayne Shorter? (I actually love Shorter records like "Phantom Navigator," because of the sexy, snaky themes--great music for the beach.)

I saw Rollins in Memphis years back. What I get most out of it is his incredible rhythmic canniness. I also like him with Monk. I don't have much of his '70s and '80s records which Christgau loved...what of them?

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Sunday, 10 September 2006 01:08 (thirteen years ago) link

I seem to recall Giddins (maybe?) writing about how you couldn't totally compehend Rollins' sound unless you'd heard him live. I did indeed catch him in an outdoor setting circa '89 in Richmond, Va., and damned if I didn't hear every note he played PERFECTLY and UNTOUCHED from, I dunno, a hundred yards out. Preach.

The latest I've got is "This is What I Do" (if not the title, close enough) from 2000 or so.

All-time fave cut: "Three Little Words," from "Sonny Rollins On Impulse!" -- one of the most perfectly titled albums ever, for so many reasons.

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 10 September 2006 08:58 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh, and BTW, I think my mom loved Howard Rollins. She really adores "A Soldier's Story."

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 10 September 2006 09:04 (thirteen years ago) link

I was disappointed by the one show I saw - 10 years ago or so, at Tramps. It was very good, but not great; there were no life-altering revelations. That being said, I like East Broadway Run Down, Saxophone Colossus and Tenor Madness, and most of all Our Man In Jazz. That 20-plus minute version of "Oleo" kills me.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Sunday, 10 September 2006 11:59 (thirteen years ago) link

sonny has a new album right?

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Sunday, 10 September 2006 15:54 (thirteen years ago) link

Someone told me that "East Broadway Run Down" wasn't all that great. I bought it anyway and it's HOTT!

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 10 September 2006 23:25 (thirteen years ago) link

He's got a new (self-released I think) album out, and I read somewhere that he met up with a tape trader who has been collecting and trading (but not selling) live concerts of his for years, so he may decide to release some of those shows himself.

curmudgeon (DC Steve), Monday, 11 September 2006 13:07 (thirteen years ago) link

I saw him at Lincoln Center outdoors a few years back, but I was sitting pretty far back from the stage, and people around me were talking a lot, so it was kind of hard to hear. He played some things with a nice Caribbean feel. I've only recently bought my first Sonny Rollins album, Easy Living, which I found cheap on used vinyl. I like the thick and greasy tone he plays with on "Isn't She Lovely". That's a song that was meant to be played as a jazz instrumental, even though Rollins takes it fairly straight. The only other Rollins I have is his work on Brilliant Corners. I went back and listened to that again yesterday. He navigates those knotty Monk tunes with aplomb. He definitely makes it sound easy, which is perhaps why his playing didn't leap out at me before. He tends to play with more subtlety and he seems to avoid the more histrionic ways of grabbing attention - such as playing lots of fast runs or building to lots of emotional climaxes with forceful high notes - which even the great sax players often rely on.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 11 September 2006 13:52 (thirteen years ago) link

Great videos! Man, fading that Billy Higgins solo is a tragedy though.

A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Monday, 11 September 2006 14:07 (thirteen years ago) link

The Bridge album, better repackaged as The Quartets, was one of the first jazz albums I ever bought. It's still the most played jazz album I own. You think you've heard all the versions of "God Bless the Child" you need to hear? Not if you haven't heard Sonny's.

Roy Kasten (Roy Kasten), Monday, 11 September 2006 14:14 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, his God Bless the Child is very very fine - ppl always talk abt Rollins being a slightly ironic/distanced player, but that version cuts as deep as Billie, in its own sublime way. In fact, I really like the Rollins/Jim Hall pairing overall, such a beautiful contrast in tone and approach - there's some great live TV footage of them playing together from this early 60s period.

Ward Fowler (Ward Fowler), Monday, 11 September 2006 16:40 (thirteen years ago) link

Amen. I'd love to see that video....

Roy Kasten (Roy Kasten), Monday, 11 September 2006 17:17 (thirteen years ago) link

Oddly enough, when I loaded this thread today, I turned on the radio, and "Freedom Suite" was playing.

My only times seeing him live was in the 80's; I ended up disappointed because I was hoping for something more like the Village Vanguard trio recordings from '57. The 80's quintet I saw had electric piano and electric bass and was too laid back compared to the Vanguard stuff. One good thing about the Wyntonization of jazz was that it made it OK (nay, even mandatory) to ditch the electric instruments.

I've now seen about five or six of the videos so far. You get to see all the faces of Sonny; all that's missing is a video with his late-50's be-mohawked visage.

My least favorite video so far: "52nd Street Theme", with the Our Man in Jazz quartet, featuring two Ornette alumni plus Henry Grimes, a bassist at home in any context (to this day). I wonder if he regards that quartet as a failed experiment, because I don't think he's tried anything as conceptually adventurous since then. Which is fine, since he seems free-er when he's firmly planted in the sound-world of the 18-year-old bebopper that he was when he first recorded "52nd Street Theme" with Bud Powell; an example here is the cadenza in the "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" video, but his mastery is just one continuous example.

I'm going to try to catch him live one more time at least. And now I'm off to youtube...

mark 0 (mark 0), Tuesday, 12 September 2006 16:11 (thirteen years ago) link

Saw him at Massey Hall back in '91 with a friend, and we were both practically laughing as he neared the final notes of his unaccompanied segment. (And we weren't even high!) It's like he was playing complete sentences, rather than just mere phrases. Fine show, except for the unfortunate sound problems - everyone except Sonny and the drummer was barely audible.

Monty Von Byonga (Monty Von Byonga), Wednesday, 13 September 2006 08:25 (thirteen years ago) link

One good thing about the Wyntonization of jazz was that it made it OK (nay, even mandatory) to ditch the electric instruments.

I don't have any problem with electric instruments per se, it's how they're used. I like lots of jazz with electric bass and electric piano. Easy Living has electric instruments on some tracks and acoustic instruments on other, and it seems like the instruments chosen are well-suited to each track.

o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 13 September 2006 13:43 (thirteen years ago) link

haha I thought about starting a thread on the new website. the new album is sold on it, $25 a copy including shipping U.S. (more foreign) but only $10 for the digital files (including a bonus track), the latter not a bad deal all things considered. when I have some $$ I will purchase it.

He's got a new (self-released I think) album out, and I read somewhere that he met up with a tape trader who has been collecting and trading (but not selling) live concerts of his for years, so he may decide to release some of those shows himself.

he actually told K. Leander Williams in Time Out New York that release of those tapes "isn't a possibility. It's a probability."

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Wednesday, 13 September 2006 14:26 (thirteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
been listening to a lot of Sonny lately -- especially the early 60s Jim Hall recordings someone mentioned above. so breezy but deep at the same time. An interesting counterpoint to the scorched earth intensity of Coltrane's stuff from the same era. Also got my hands on a bootleg broadcast from 1963 of him and Don Cherry playing in Europe -- it doesn't always work (they seem to be trying not to step on each other's toes at times), but on some of the tracks it's mindmeltingly beautiful.

tylerw, Monday, 7 May 2007 18:09 (thirteen years ago) link

The latest, Sonny, Please, is very fine.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 05:21 (thirteen years ago) link

Sonny is godhead. recently scored There will never be another you. a live set from the early 1960's that ABC released in the mid-1970's without Newk's permission. only about 30 minutes long, but well worth seeking out

outdoor_miner, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 05:34 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

Recently got this thing on Bluebird called Sonny Rollins & Co. 1964, which seems to feature various combinations of herbie hanccock, ron carter, bob cranshaw, mickey roker, jim hall and roy mccurdy. I have a feeling it's material that was originally issued under other release names - anyone know?

hills like white people (Hurting 2), Sunday, 16 May 2010 05:15 (ten years ago) link

nine months pass...

bumping this for ilxor to read (he's at work)

Algerian Goalkeeper, Tuesday, 22 February 2011 21:24 (nine years ago) link

grrrrr (bookmarked!)

Damn this thread seems so....different without ilxor (ilxor), Tuesday, 22 February 2011 21:25 (nine years ago) link

The Cutting Edge from '75 with Rufus Harley and a savage swinging version of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is not to be passed on.

sonofstan, Tuesday, 22 February 2011 21:29 (nine years ago) link

I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago and there were up and coming concert posters everywhere with this awesome photo.


Run Westy Run Megatorrent (MaresNest), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:05 (nine years ago) link

seven months pass...

Just saw him at Kennedy Center in Washington DC last night. Now, 81-year old Rollins has a huge gray-white haired 'fro and beard. He walked out there all hunched over and moving slowly, but when he was playing he suddenly straightened up his back at times. Longtime bassist Cranshaw, plus guitar, drums and a percussionist(I left the playbill somewhere that had their names). The set was only an hour and 10 to 15 minutes long but plenty enjoyable.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 12:57 (eight years ago) link

i'd love to see him sometime! some of the more recent live recordings i've heard make it clear he's still got some things to say.

tylerw, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 15:13 (eight years ago) link

four months pass...

Just been listening to a '74 set from Dime that I grabbed after watching the stuff on BBC4 last night. This was a bio doc including footage from his 80th birthday concert where he was joined onstage by Jim Hall and later Ornette Coleman. Also included footage of him revisiting the bridge of the lp title, not sure when that was shot, much earlier since his hair was still black not the fluffy white blob it is in the more current footage.

That was followed by a set from Ronnie Scott's that was filmed for the BBC in '74 with his electric band and Rufus Harley on horns and bagpipes. That'll presumably be doing the rounds before long. There's a version up on youtube already
it's called rescued cos only part of the footage from the gig was used by the BBC at the time and one of the engineers reintegrated the edited bits to a reel which he kept in his attic since then.

I also found this from Copenhagen in '74

and this from Holland in '73
think there's more from that gig up there too

Stevolende, Saturday, 18 February 2012 17:42 (eight years ago) link

four months pass...

wife/daughter got me the live in europe 1959 3-disc set for father's day. so great! not sure of its import-y/bootleg origins, but it deserves a little more attention! all trio stuff of rollins at one of his peaks as a player.

tylerw, Monday, 18 June 2012 22:46 (eight years ago) link

I got a couple Sonny Rollins CDs, but he is definitely one of the titans of post bop jazz I really need to take a year or two and just listen to pretty much it all like I have with other jazz artists of his ilk.

earlnash, Tuesday, 19 June 2012 03:32 (eight years ago) link

yeah his career is a little bit hard to follow (at least for me) because he doesn't have one era where he had, you know, the classic band, the classic label, etc. he was always kinda bouncing around.

tylerw, Wednesday, 20 June 2012 21:53 (eight years ago) link

I dunno, I think a case could be made for The Freelance Years box (if there's one single classic Rollins era).

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:41 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...


Nice interview/feature. Despite some lung issues he's still working hard at 82.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 August 2013 22:56 (six years ago) link

Spoiler alert, this is a sad part from near the end of this fascinating to me article:

"I mostly stay in," Sonny said, sitting in his leather chair with his now familiar blood-orange skullcap on his head. He had a bunch of tests scheduled to check on his lungs, which he said had gotten "a little worse." He believed that the problem had been building for some time, perhaps back to 9/11. "I was living so close to the Towers, and when they fell down, we had to stay there," he said. "It was such an upsetting time, I really felt like playing. I took out my horn and took this deep breath, something I've done a million times. But I immediately felt sick, like I'd gulped down something bad. Some poison. It was just in the air."

Sonny looked wistfully at his sainted ax sitting on a brick shelf beside the fireplace. He hadn't played for months, the longest period since he returned from India in 1971.

But he wasn't feeling sorry for himself. Indeed, he appeared in good spirits, even jolly. It was difficult in the beginning, he said, not being able to practice. It was something he feared. "I really felt that would be the end of me, not being able to play. But I'm coming to terms with it. We're here for such a short time, you have to make the most of it. I've been lucky, getting to spend my life playing this horn. So how can I complain?"

Besides, Sonny said, it wasn't like the verdict was in for sure. There was every chance he'd play again. This was a good thing, Sonny said, because "I haven't really met my goals. I haven't made my full statement yet."

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 August 2013 01:53 (six years ago) link

I hope he can play again. While he walked hunched over the last time I saw him, when he blew his horn he stood tall. Amazing

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:56 (six years ago) link


curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 August 2013 14:42 (six years ago) link

he's cancelled his show at the London jazz festival in November, which doesn't sound good.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Thursday, 22 August 2013 14:55 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

ha that is great. was just listening to the sonny meets hawk album a little while ago -- lots of weird/wonderful stuff going on there. always find the end of "lover man" kind of terrifying, some kind of staring-into-the-abyss playing happening. obvious that rollins loved hawkins enough that he did not want to just let him coast through that session.

tylerw, Tuesday, 3 March 2015 15:35 (five years ago) link


curmudgeon, Tuesday, 3 March 2015 15:36 (five years ago) link

three months pass...

I had never had a proper listen to The Bridge till recently, the middle 2 (John S + title track) are incredible. He sounds like a bit of a judgemental shit in that letter to Hawkins but he was deffo on a hell of a creative high when he wrote it.

xelab, Sunday, 7 June 2015 14:10 (five years ago) link


He got an honary degree from the University of hartford and in the interview says he's not done yet. Much of the post is an overview of his career highlights

curmudgeon, Monday, 8 June 2015 18:11 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

I have been hammering The Bridge recently, about 60% of what I love about it is Jim Hall's guitar playing. Some of the standards on it are a bit workaday, but still lovely rainy Sunday music.

sorry, no results found for "Sekal Has To Die" (xelab), Sunday, 26 July 2015 13:11 (five years ago) link

eight months pass...


He's hoping new medication will help him with his (post-9/11)respiratory issues, and allow him to play and record again

curmudgeon, Thursday, 7 April 2016 17:19 (four years ago) link

I was afraid this thread had been bumped because he'd died.

Last month I set up a phone interview between Rollins and up-and-coming tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana; here's a link for anyone who wants to read it.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Thursday, 7 April 2016 17:26 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

happy 88th birthday, big sax colossus!

calzino, Friday, 7 September 2018 07:32 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I've been listening to a lot of 70s Sonny and find it quite interesting. Horn Culture is good start to finish, but all of them have their merits. Not quite fusion, not quite crossover jazz-funk, but interesting on their own terms.

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 28 October 2019 19:19 (nine months ago) link

i like the way i feel which has lee ritenour, billy cobham, bill summers AND patrice rushen. doesn't quite live up to the lineup but fun anyway

adam, Monday, 28 October 2019 20:16 (nine months ago) link

I had been considering doing a string of blog posts about his 70s albums for a while. I was intrigued when he tossed a version of "Disco Monk" onto one of his Road Shows live compilations.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 28 October 2019 20:33 (nine months ago) link

do it. the mccoy tyner series was awesome

adam, Monday, 28 October 2019 20:35 (nine months ago) link

Listening to the 2CD expanded version of 1973's In Japan now. The original album was 46 minutes long; the second disc (bonus material) is 58 minutes, including a 29-minute piece. The band is Rollins, Bob Cranshaw on bass, David Lee on drums, Mtume on congas, and Yoshiaki Masuo on guitar.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Tuesday, 29 October 2019 12:53 (nine months ago) link

a string of blog posts about his 70s albums

would read

budo jeru, Tuesday, 29 October 2019 16:34 (nine months ago) link

Masuo is great on Horn Culture- I didn't know him at all. I'll have to check out In Japan.

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 30 October 2019 05:55 (nine months ago) link

70s-wise, Nucleus (title thought to be a play on his nickname, which came from his looking like baseball's Don Newcombe, and he always has seemed like an athlete) was my gateway Rollins LP (dunno how the CD sound etc compares), and sounded like exemplary jazz with crossover and gateway appeal: accessibly melodic and robust and even-especially lyrical, but disciplined, and trusting the listener to have an open mind and a brain.
Wiki sez:
Track listing
All compositions by Sonny Rollins except as indicated.

"Lucille" - 6:08
"Gwaligo" - 5:58
"Are You Ready?" - 4:08
"Azalea" - 4:46
"Newkleus" (James Mtume) - 5:17
"Cosmet" - 7:20
"My Reverie" (Larry Clinton, based on Claude Debussy's "Reverie") - 7:39
Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
George Duke: piano, electric piano & synthesizer (track 1,3,5-7)
Raul de Souza: trombone (tracks 1-4,6,7)
Bennie Maupin: tenor saxophone (all), tenor saxophone soloist on 4, bass clarinet (track 7), saxello (track 6), lyricon (track 5)
Black Bird McNight: guitar (tracks: 1-3,5,6); soloist on 2,3
David Amaro: guitar; soloist on 1
Chuck Rainey: electric bass (tracks 1-3,6)
Bob Cranshaw: electric bass (tracks 4,5,7)
Eddie Moore: drums (tracks 1-3,6)
Roy McCurdy: drums (tracks 4,5,7)
Mtume: congas & percussion (1-4,6), lead guitar (track 5)

dow, Friday, 1 November 2019 00:53 (nine months ago) link

Also enjoyed the live, Caribbean-tending Don't Stop The Carnival, with Tony Williams---and There Will Be Another You, an electrifying, immersive concert from the mid-60s, with Billy Higgins, unreleased 'til the late-ish 70s, and totally relevant to the latter era's still-ongoing evolution of progressive and free jazz---also relevant to, for instance, this year's belated releases of Coltrane's Blue World, Art Pepper's Promise Kept: The Complete Artist House Masters, and fuckin' finally Getz at the Gate. Rollins sued or pressured ABC about releasing this show, and the LP disappeared pretty quickly, though may have eventually come out on CD.

dow, Friday, 1 November 2019 01:03 (nine months ago) link

Impulse has it on a 2-for-1 CD, paired with On Impulse, a studio album from the same year. My favorite Rollins album on Impulse is East Broadway Run Down (it was David S. Ware's favorite, too).

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Friday, 1 November 2019 01:39 (nine months ago) link

Great to know, thanks! I meant something more like "the evolution of progressive jazz in response to the co-existence of free jazz," toward a new mainstream, or something personally expressive, yet/and inclusive, that didn't lose the freedom principle of jazz to trappings, tropes, milestones, incl. previous adaptations and resistance to same.

dow, Friday, 1 November 2019 02:21 (nine months ago) link

As threatened, here's the first in a three-part series about Rollins' 1970s albums, discussing Sonny Rollins' Next Album (mostly solid), Horn Culture (some peaks and one very deep valley), In Japan (incredible, especially the 2CD reissue which adds a full hour of bonus material) and The Cutting Edge (also quite good - the addition of bagpiper Rufus Harley was a fucking brilliant choice).

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 4 November 2019 14:25 (nine months ago) link

Bless you for this series, but I disagree with your take on Sais- indeed it was that very track that prompted me to revive this thread. I was utterly blown away by how weird and long that soprano solo is. When it first comes on it sounds like someone just moaning like they got kicked in the nuts & they're trying to sing it out... unreal!

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 08:34 (nine months ago) link

Part 2 is up today. TL;DR: Nucleus is pretty great, The Way I Feel is mostly not-great, the live There Will Never Be Another You is surprisingly rough and hardcore, and the double live Don't Stop the Carnival has its moments. Tony Williams doesn't add as much to it as I'd hoped, but Donald Byrd does.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 21:09 (nine months ago) link

I just picked up 'Carnival' on the cheap and have to agree. The r&b material is much better represented on the studio LPs and Williams is pretty rote. Sides 1 & 4 offer the most excitement imo.

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Sunday, 17 November 2019 02:20 (eight months ago) link

unperson, thanks so much for doing the blog posts ! highly stimulating so far -- i'm pacing myself so i can spend some time with the records before i move ahead. great excuse to discover (and sometimes re-visit) the '70s catalogue.

anyway, i have to agree with Sparkle Motion re: "sais", i think it's great

unreleased 'til the late-ish 70s, and totally relevant to the latter era's still-ongoing evolution of progressive and free jazz

dow, this is interesting, but i'm curious, apart from the art pepper archival release you mentioned, what late '70s recordings do you have in mind ?

budo jeru, Sunday, 17 November 2019 05:24 (eight months ago) link

p.s. i like sonny rollins just fine but absolutely worship don cherry and am wondering about this box:


SONNY ROLLINS QUARTET WITH DON CHERRY - Complete Live at the Village Gate 1962

(6 CD SET)

July 27th to July 30th 1962

budo jeru, Sunday, 17 November 2019 05:29 (eight months ago) link


budo jeru, Sunday, 17 November 2019 05:33 (eight months ago) link

xp to dow

sorry meant to phrase that more as, in addition to art pepper archival release, what mid / late '70s records do you see as being of a piece with this "progressive" tendency in some of these SR recordings ? just trying to figure out more clearly what you mean by opening up the sample size a bit

budo jeru, Sunday, 17 November 2019 06:16 (eight months ago) link

That 1962 box is amazing; I bought it a few years ago and wrote about it for BA:

The original Our Man in Jazz featured only three tracks—a side-long exploration of “Oleo,” and versions of “Dearly Beloved” and “Doxy”—and was not regarded as a landmark Rollins album, even though it was one of the first things he released after a hiatus that had begun in 1959. Now, though, a box has emerged, on the Solar label out of Spain, that adds 18 previously unreleased recordings, and the full-length “Dearly Beloved,” from the band’s four-night stand at the Village Gate, expanding the album to a six-CD set. Complete Live at the Village Gate 1962 is similar to Miles Davis’s 1995 box Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965, in that it documents a band at work over multiple nights, allowing comparison between multiple performances of the same book of tunes. But the Davis quintet would stay together until 1968, its sound evolving from year to year, its studio albums building one on top of the other until they became one of the most beautiful and brilliant discographies in jazz. The Rollins/Cherry band, on the other hand, was a comet, rocketing across the scene and vanishing nearly as fast as it arrived.

The most immediately notable thing about these performances is their length. When these guys dug into a tune, they kept on digging. Two of the four versions of “Oleo” here are more than a half hour long, and even the released take is nearly a full minute longer on the box than it was on Our Man in Jazz. The “shortest” version of the tune runs more than 17 minutes. The album edit of “Dearly Beloved,” included here on Disc One, was eight minutes and change; the full version, found on Disc Three, runs 18:41. Other tracks, like versions of the Duke Ellington ballad “Solitude” and a series of untitled pieces apparently improvised in the moment, run between 15 and 30 minutes.

Of course, the quality of the music is also impressive as hell. The original album can seem overly loose at first listen; the opening version of “Oleo,” which is also the first thing recorded during the band’s three-night stand, drops you into a world that’s initially hard to navigate. The melody, one of Rollins’ most powerful (that’s why it’s become a standard), is rendered in an oblique and digressive manner, with the saxophonist and the trumpeter talking past each other as Cranshaw and Higgins push and shove. There’s a visceral, bluesy swing to the rhythm, with the drummer attacking in an almost martial manner at times, but it almost feels like there are two separate conversations going on, one up front and one in back.

But the deeper you get into this set, the more you absorb the band’s collective language, the clearer it becomes. A few critics have claimed that Rollins and Cherry were incompatible, that they weren’t capable of deep communication. But I think what was really going on was, people were used to hearing Cherry next to Coleman, whose style was built around extrapolations of a song’s melody. And Cherry could do that really, really well; there’s almost a giddiness to their interplay on albums like This Is Our Music and The Shape of Jazz to Come, like you’re listening to two little kids making up a song together. Rollins, though, was on the surface a more traditional jazz player, who improvised (and still does) by building on the chord structure of a tune, occasionally (okay, frequently) throwing in apposite quotes from other songs, sometimes as punctuation, other times seemingly as filler to allow him to gather his thoughts. The fuller, heavier sound of the tenor saxophone is the ideal tool for this job, just as the alto’s lighter, floatier tone is great for loose, wandering melodies.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Sunday, 17 November 2019 11:08 (eight months ago) link

Oh man I had no idea of this box set's existence! Our Man in Jazz is such an amazing record, I am going to have to seek this out.

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Sunday, 17 November 2019 20:22 (eight months ago) link

It's incredibly cheap; if you see someone selling it for more than $25, keep looking.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Sunday, 17 November 2019 21:13 (eight months ago) link

yeah that rollins/cherry box is the deal of the century

tylerw, Sunday, 17 November 2019 22:45 (eight months ago) link

xxxxpost hi budo, did you also see my attempted clarification of a 40-year-old impression?
I meant something more like "the evolution of progressive jazz in response to the co-existence of free jazz," toward a new mainstream, or something personally expressive, yet/and inclusive, that didn't lose the freedom principle of jazz to trappings, tropes, milestones, incl. previous adaptations and resistance to same.

― dow, Thursday, October 31, 2019 9:21 PM (two weeks ago) Rollins was way ahead of the curve with this, of course, but the 70s albums I was thinking about in the 70s re expansion of the progressive mainstream prob came more from the "outside," since that's mostly what I was listening to then: Archie Shepp's Sea of Faces, the duo albums with Horace Parlan, Shepp's performance on Charlie Haden's The Golden Number, also the rest of that album, where Haden was taking Liberation Music Orchestra and Old and New Dreams in that era, the later/last Mingus albums---but There Will Be Another You was more challenging, although he always found his way back to the (improved!) melodies he'd started with, after taking them places I would not have known of: the hardest and knottiest of hard bop x fire music, spinning around and around, and it comes out here, in his version of the new normal, 'til the next show, or tune.

dow, Monday, 18 November 2019 00:46 (eight months ago) link

I didn't hear Art Pepper until the early 80s, so I wasn't thinking about him in those terms yet.

dow, Monday, 18 November 2019 00:47 (eight months ago) link

Oh and also in the 70s, Gato Barbieri's Chapter One: Latin America and Bolivia: romantic melodies and skronk on an extended honeymoon.

dow, Monday, 18 November 2019 00:53 (eight months ago) link

Which was not as far from the progressive mainstream or charts as you might think; he'd already gotten 70s-type interest via his soundtrack for Last Tango In Paris.

dow, Monday, 18 November 2019 01:03 (eight months ago) link

It's incredibly cheap; if you see someone selling it for more than $25, keep looking.

― shared unit of analysis (unperson), Sunday, November 17, 2019 1:13 PM (four hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

yeah that rollins/cherry box is the deal of the century

I haven't bought a CD in nigh on a decade but this might convince me.

the public eating of beans (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 18 November 2019 01:16 (eight months ago) link

three months pass...

Amazing live footage from 1971, of Rollins with Bobo Stenson, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen backing him up:


but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 22 February 2020 21:38 (five months ago) link

fantastic stuff!

justice 4 CCR (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 24 February 2020 19:03 (five months ago) link

Great interview by David Marchese in the New York Times.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 24 February 2020 19:20 (five months ago) link

yeah amazing interview!

tylerw, Monday, 24 February 2020 19:38 (five months ago) link


Something Super Stupid Cupid (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 24 February 2020 19:51 (five months ago) link

Wow is right. Some heavy stuff discussed. But also some lighter topics—His comments re The Rolling Stones are funny.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 25 February 2020 04:42 (five months ago) link

three months pass...

My breathing seems to be O.K. My main problem is that I can’t blow my horn anymore. I’m surviving, but my problem is I can’t blow my horn.

How does it feel not to be able to blow your horn?

[Laughs] Well, that’s where living in the spirit world comes in. It felt pretty bad. I had a rough time getting through it, because I like blowing my horn. When I had to stop, it was quite a traumatic deal for me. From New Yorker interview

curmudgeon, Saturday, 13 June 2020 15:09 (one month ago) link

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