Friday nights concert was fun. The house was packed and the party commenced. Clifton Anderson the bone player that shares the front line with Sonny has become a formidable player since the last time I saw them. Great tone, range, ideas and his parts playing spot on. I generally don't like trombone, but this set up is very cool. Bobby Broom got off a couple of good guitar solos and the drummer Willie Smith played a great solo. Except for solos, he and Bob Cranshaw were virtually invisible, just laying down a lush carpet of time and groove.
I could write more that you want to read about Sonny's playing. Let's just say that he is the Saxophone Colossus. There may be other heavy duty players in this big world, but Sonny has managed to keep his voice and remain relevant. He just is who he is, and that is what you hear.
Like the other night, I drove Sonny back to the airport Saturday in a sedan and my friend shuttled the band and gear in a passenger van. When I was first introduced to Sonny as his driver, I ask," Can I call you Sonny... I feel like I already know you so well?" He said, "My father is Mr. Rollins... I'm Sonny". So I felt like I could call him Sonny with no lack of respect.
As we took off from the hotel back to the airport, Sonny ask how I was doing and I said that I was doing great, still thinking about the concert. I told him that I thought the show was a big success. I said that you could tell by how animated the crowd was when filing out of the auditorium. You could hear musicians saying stuff like, did you hear it when they traded fours on this tune or did you hear the stuff he was playing on this tune? Everybody was smiling and excited. When we were walking outside, you could hear people singing or whistling little licks or one of the tunes.
He laughed and said, "Man, that's what it's all about"! I said, that when I woke up this morning, I had a calypso hook from a tune that they played stuck in my head. I had to pick up the horn and work it out for about an hour.
We had a great talk. It shifted from dealing with the media to the fact that was wearing a coat because he knew it could get a little chilly in Monterey in the evenings. I told him that it was my wife's birthday and we were going to the Coast to a modest little beach house that we have been going to for many years. I took my horn down on the beach and played for hours last year. The weather is so nice that I'm looking forward to doing that again. Sonny lit up and said that he loved to play outside. He told me about a placed where he hung out in the '50s in Malibu. He said that he really dug playing by the ocean. He lamented that one could not do that in that place today. I didn't really understand and then we were at the airport.
I helped him out of the back seat of the car by taking his heavy black valise. There was no way in the world that he was going to let that horn case out of his hand. I noticed that each time he was waiting for arrangements to be taken care of for the entourage, he would never put the horn or valise down, rather he stood and held these heavy items. Probably couldn't get my horn case out of my hand either.
I can't say enough what a extraordinary person Sonny is. He has a charisma that is undeniable. As we stood on the sidewalk in front of the Airport waiting for things to get sorted out, I wished him a good trip and hoped he would have fun playing in Monterey. He thanked me and told me to have great trip too. There was a minor hang-up and we just stood there for a while talking about some fairly intense things about the irony of life and what we all have to do to deal with it. Then all was good to go and I was out on the freeway with a big smile on my face.
Thanks Sonny I needed that!
Anybody here go to the Monterey Jazz Festival??