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Sonny Rollins at the Barbican, London 24/11/07

3276 Views 34 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Saxplayer67
Anyone else going to see Sonny at the Barbican, London this Saturday? See you there!
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Well, Itspman, you know what I look like from my avatar - no, that brass thing isn't glued to my face! How about a pic of you? :D
Hey Rooty, you're un-ignored!!!!

I've no probs with shaking your hand and burying the hatchet - which was really caused by me being over-sensitive as usual! In all honesty, the impression one gets of a person through email, messaging or good old fashioned letter writing is totally different to how they are in real life. But don't ask me to kiss and make up! :D
Cheers, Rooty, this is my fifth Sonny gig!
docformat said:
I'll be there.

I'm going with my disabled father-in-law so we'll be sitting in the wheelchair section - basically the gangway halfway up the hall - so I should be easy to spot.

BTW I saw Enrico Ravva (trumpet) and Stefano Bollani (piano) there last night. Terrific gig - check em out.
Would you believe, I have only seen the following 'name' saxophonists live:-

Branford Marsalis (six times - met him after the fifth but corresponded a few times), Sonny Rollins (this is fifth time, as I said), David Sanborn (once - couldn't afford his last couple of visits to Ronnies!), John Dankworth (twice - second time had good chat with him). Also there was Soweto Kinch as support for Sanborn - I hated Kinch, I was tempted to walk out til he'd finished!
cleger said:
Now I'm curious, I don't know anything about this cat other than he's trying to do a sort of hip hop/jazz fusion sort of thing. Is that what turned you off or was it something about his playing? The samples I've heard online seem to vary quite a bit depending on which of his CDs they're from.

To be honest, I wouldn't be able to sit through a Sanborn performance so maybe we're just coming from different places.
When I saw him at the Sanborn concert, Kinch's slot consisted of him playing a few licks on his alto - very poor tone and technique, IMO - and then most of the time rapping. His trumpeter friend rapped along with him holding the trumpet but didn't use it at all! And the crowd thought it was amazing, cheering and all the rest which confirms my suspicion - most people who attend concerts are just sycophants. Sanborn could have come out and played Three Blind Mice using wrong notes and the crowd would have still cheered and whooped it up.
Rooty, say wha-? It's not til Saturday, you're a day early - how far are you travelling for gawd's sake?
RootyTootoot said:
Back from my road trip.

Ok. I'll kick off. The concert itself was a very mixed experience for me. It was deeply moving to see Sonny play live (he's always been and still is one of my very favourite players) and there was a great sincerity in his playing. But, for me, the band was not so good. I've got more to say but if i do i'll probably start to rant. I'd be interested to hear what others thought. The concert ended with a standing ovation, BTW.
Rooty, his band, apart from some personnel changes and the dropping of the pianist in recent years is about the same as it's been the last five times I've seen him at the Barbican (this was number five and number three for Katharine, my fiance). Performance-wise also about the same - they back Sonny up and are more background.

Kath and I had a nice chat with Sonny (and before him, BBC newsreader - now a freelancer - Moira Stewart, a friend of Sonny's who I've seen at every one of his concerts) after the gig, in his dressing room and Kath (as a qualified chef and expert traditional cake maker) presented him with a pack of her renowned chocolate brownies! Got some nice photos of Sonny and us too.

I started to get a stinking cold on the Saturday morning (as Sonny had - the reason he didn't do an encore) but of course wouldn't let that stop me going to the gig and Sunday I was playing for a street festival in Ramsgate, Kent - the show must go on! I even ended my last set by singing a couple of Christmas tunes to my backing tracks! And the cold is even worse now, being in the cold all day - at least it was a paid gig!
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The Meeting!

Bob Cranshaw (he's 75 - looks nowhere near that, take off twenty!) has been with Sonny for forty years and he does the Sesame Street music (he had a Sesame Street sweatshirt on when we spoke with him backstage). Also said 'Hi' to the percussionist - Sonny uses a percussionist on all the gigs I've seen - maybe it's a nod to his and jazz's roots.

Didn't get to speak to Clifton who is Sonny's nephew, as he was tied up with a number of people. Saw Courtney Pine also but again he was tied up.

Here're the pics, boys and girls!

Captions: Dirk Conversing With Sonny/Kath Presents Sonny With Her World Class Homemade Chocolate Brownies/Sonny Replies 'por moi?'/Katharine, Dirk & Sonny
At last you guys have seen the beautiful girl I'm marrying next year!
Thanks, Doc!
You know what, I haven't really weighed in with my thoughts on the Barbican gig! We all know what is thought in general about Sonny's working band but it is interesting that he switched the piano a few years ago (most recently Stephen Scott - he was on the first couple of Sonny gigs I saw) for Bobby Brooms's jazz guitar.

Every gig of Sonny's I've seen has this palpable air of love in the hall, that's what it is. He's everyone's favourite uncle, I guess! His tone did alter I think sometime from the seventies/eighties, based on the timeline of his recordings (but I still have favourites from every decade of his career) and it is a bit rough around the edges but he's still an excellent musician.

As I said to him, if I can play half as long and as well as he does when I'm his age... he is an inspiration to me, when I do my four hours in the open air during these cold months, I handle it because he still plays and plays... and plays some more, when I know of other well-known players half his age, who are quite lazy by comparison.

I did use a variation of my old joke when speaking with Sonny, which I first used when interviewing Elmer Bernstein, in town for his 80th birthday concert: 'I'm not envious of your talent or your money... but you've got forty-four years on me and you have more HAIR than I do!'. Then, when I was standing with Elmer to have our photo taken, I looked over and said to him 'Oh well, at least I'm taller than you' and he replied 'EVERYONE'S taller than me'.

To Sonny, I just said something like 'I'm envious, I'm forty and you have more hair than I do'. When Sonny walks on stage, he shows his 77 years (though his face doesn't), until he starts playing and awaaaaay he goes!
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