Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last night I went to Symphony Hall in Boston and saw Sonny Rollins. Went along JustinThyme another SOTW'er. We had second row center seats. I'm guessing there must have been at least a hundred sax players in the audience, maybe a lot more.

Sonny had his usual percussionist, a new drummer, Bob Cranshaw, Bobby Broom and Clifton Anderson.
They hit the stage and Sonny counted off a very uptempo Why Was I Born? I guess he was born to play that opening solo which lasted over 20 minutes. Sonny was on fire, ripping through chorus after chorus, the tune went almost 40 minutes. The set also included In A Sentimental Mood, They Say Its Wonderful and a beautiful slow calypso called Nice Lady. For the second shorter set there was another original I didn't know plus Don't Stop the Carnival and closing with Tenor Madness.

What can I say about such an accomplised and committed player? His sound was gorgeous.rich and full. There were some squeeks during that mammoth first solo but never after that in spite of the fact that he made no adjustments to the reed and mouthpiece. What struck me the most was how much musical depth there was in his playing. Everything he played implied more then he played. I'm not reffering to his plentiful and natural musical quotes. It is more the fact that one could hear so much listening that was absorbed into his playing. R+B, country, arabic music, free jazz, all of it just poured through his playing. I could hear his lifetime of dedication to hard work in his sense of total freedom. There are plenty of players who play more notes, faster lines and more slickly but lack the HEART in his playing. It was a joy to behold. I sometimes hear guys make comments after hearing some new young player that they feel like putting the horn away. Hearing an old Master makes me want to bear down and keep going becuase the best is yet to come.

The band was fine. Clifton in particular has grown and his tone was noticably richer then the last time I heard him.

It was a tremendous performance. Anyone else see it?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
4,861 Posts
Nice report, but you seem surprised, somehow.

This is, after all, the genius nucleus that is Sonny Rollins.

He was doing it waaaay before anybody that is around today.

Even people in their 50s, now, where toddlers at best when Sonny had his
thing together.

There are plenty of players who play more notes, faster lines and more slickly but lack the HEART in his playing.
Ever hear the album Tour de Force [made in 1956] ?

Waaaay uptempo stuff there .

Next to Bird nobody could play at those tempos in a sustained and creative way.

Newk's been there and done all that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not misconstruing your point(s); I just had to add that.:)

I'm glad Sonny is still alive and vital - he is and remains my #1 all-time hero.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,514 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not surprised at all. I love younger Sonny but for me he is playing his best music right now. He does not play the same way he did then and my point was that this does not mean his musical ability has diminished. At this point in time there are guys who play more notes and make less music.

Anyway we agree Sonny is a living giant.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,228 Posts
Sonny Rollins

I saw Sonny about 8 years ago and it just elevated my expectations of what to listen for in myself and others. I had the very strong feeling that there were a ton of musicians in heaven that came to visit Sonny that night on stage. It was a very powerfull revelation that he is a living legend. The strength of spirit that is required to play at that level and elevate the audience is massive. He is many peoples hero for some very good reasons. Needless to say I still experience the joy of that preformance years later. The only other concert that made that impression was Count Basies last Canadian concert before he left earth. Another life giving warrior. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
SAW IT!! It was a great show, especially that first number of "Why Was I Born?" I've been a fan of Sonny's forever, but had never seen him LIVE...Anderson was fantastic, I thought.

Afterwards, I waited outside in the freezing cold and Sonny signed my sheet music of MAMBO BOUNCE and some other items....

It was great. Fanatastic show. Worth every penny and more!!

brian

PS: You guys should see his saxophone case: tons of cool, vintage stickers of country flags, hotels, etc....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,885 Posts
I have yet to hear Sonny Rolllins live, but have heard him play via video podcasts on his website.

Sonny sounds so great even at his current age because he is one of the few remaining jazz artists who has a true understanding of melody. He has always been a melodious player. Like it was mentioned, a lot of players today have the fingers, the technique; are great players of their instrument, but it tends to lack the heart, the sensativity that guys like Sonny, Wayne, Herbie, et al have. It's a penetrating quality to the music that takes your attention away from the mechanics and straight to musical beauty. It isn't so much a criticism on modern players, because there is nothing wrong with what players sound like today, but the most oustanding players that I have heard on record have intentionally crossed the line, going steps further than everyone else, really trying to create and accomplish something deep with the music. That takes a lot of courage.

Anyway, Sonny has always had an interesting technical style. Just how he holds the horn and positions his fingers is different than say, John Coltrane, or Charlie Parker. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like today, players are being taught how to play the same way, have the same technique... and that doesn't seem right. I've heard a couple of young players out there today that are doing some great things, though.

I'd love to be able to play with as much depth as Sonny plays with. That depth to his playing is from experience, all the music he has heard and loved, and from digging as deep as possible into the music that he is playing. He doesn't need to play many notes, because you can go far with melody, sound, and soul. To me, it is more admirable to do that than show everyone how fast you can play, or how many solos you can memorize. Sonny may be an elder, but there isn't a cat on this planet living today who has such a vulnurable attitude towards music as an art form than he does. Wayne Shorter is up there, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
If you think Sonny sounds great, listen to his 50's stuff! It was KILLING! He's still playing the same tunes!?!?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,269 Posts
asaxman said:
If you think Sonny sounds great, listen to his 50's stuff! It was KILLING! He's still playing the same tunes!?!?
I think it's safe to say 1) that we have all heard his 50's stuff and 2) that it doesn't really matter what tunes he plays, he's such a pure improviser that he can take them to new places every single time he touches the horn.

I saw Sonny at the SF Opera House a couple of years ago. He was amazing. It was a good two hours of music, and Sonny was playing beautifully and having fun.

At one point, he asked if there were any requests, and there were dozens of tunes called from the audience. A big smile appeared on his face, and he exclaimed "You bought my records!" Then, after a brief pause, asked "How come I never saw any royalties?"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
I too saw the show. I too was moved.

There were two things that made me some sad. First, through the whole evening Mr. Rollins only blew over settings with one tonal center. Big, long calypsos, one-chord funk vamps, etc. He didn't blow over "Sentimental Mood." One of the legendary players of changes apparently chose this evening to avoid playing on changes. Second, something's happened to Mr. Rollins' sense of swing -- it's more "ricky-ticky" now. But:

At the close of "Nice Lady" -- the end of the first set -- the band hung on the final chord for what seemed like 2+ minutes. (Maybe it wasn't, but it sure seemed like it.) Drums in full crash, guitar in full sustain, trombone cycle-breathing a note . . . you get it. And it went on. As Mr. Rollins TOOK HIS TIME. It was exactly like watching Sonny Rollins play the "Acknowledgment" to A Love Supreme. In the most joyous way that Sonny Rollins can.

In short, it was one of the most powerful musical moments I've heard in years.

Four hours on the road? A moment. $100 for tickets for me and my son? A mere portion of a day's labor. My kid and I see Sonny Rollins, at age 76, explore something new, unique and beautiful? A lifetime memory.

Thank you, Mr. Rollins.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,494 Posts
This is slightly off topic, but I would like some opinions please.

First of all, I must state that I am a huge Sonny Rollins fan.

Now my question...

Recently, while driving, I heard on the radio a snippet of the concert
Sonny played after 9/11. I think it was in Boston.

Now the small bit I heard sounded to me like the great Sonny was past it.
He sounded like an old man that just couldn't cut it any more.

As I said, I only heard a little bit and then the radio program ended.
I haven't had a chance to buy this CD yet.

I am interested in other's opinions regarding this concert and recording.
Did I hear it correctly ????
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,269 Posts
kavala said:
This is slightly off topic, but I would like some opinions please.

First of all, I must state that I am a huge Sonny Rollins fan.

Now my question...

Recently, while driving, I heard on the radio a snippet of the concert
Sonny played after 9/11. I think it was in Boston.

Now the small bit I heard sounded to me like the great Sonny was past it.
He sounded like an old man that just couldn't cut it any more.

As I said, I only heard a little bit and then the radio program ended.
I haven't had a chance to buy this CD yet.

I am interested in other's opinions regarding this concert and recording.
Did I hear it correctly ????
He's not as consistant as he used to be, and his tone is definitely smaller and more brittle these days, but he can definitely still stretch out and BLOW. I would reccomend checking that album out. Some people don't really like what Sonny does today, but I think he's still awesome.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
684 Posts
Sonny is the King. I love Sonny. His is my all time hero of the saxophone. With that being said, as Kavala mentioned, the way his band swings is ricky ticky. Sonny alone is worth seeing. But his band.....I don't know.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
DTExpress said:
Check that: as Sam said Sonny's band swings ricky ticky
Where's the "tavi"?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Martinman said:
Where's the "tavi"?
You mean 'Kritavi' -- he already posted to the thread. :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
hgiles said:
You mean 'Kritavi' -- he already posted to the thread. :)
No, I mean the Ricki Ticki Tavi:)

It must fight those synthetic cobra reeds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
DTExpress said:
Check that: as Sam said Sonny's band swings ricky ticky
Not to be nit-picky but the band was swinging. MR. ROLLINS was more ricky-ticky than he used to be and it made me sad.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top