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Chris Potter is likely one of the most recent players who has a lot of Rollins in his playing. Not 100% or anything but, I can definitely hear it. Bob Reynolds also has a bit. Not as much as Potter but... then again, I think they took a lot of the artists they enjoyed and put them together to get their style and sound. The more players you have the more amalgamated the sound of the most modern players will become.
This is definitely true. Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young basically had to put together their style by themselves, out of what they studied and the at that time fairly young Jazz tradition. They had no choice but to invent language. I think most modern players spend as much or more time mining the tradition for clues or "rules" one how or what to play and subsequently don't spend as much time making their own lines. I know I have spent more time with method book lines than writing my own.

I think the attitude is that you're supposed to "know the tradition" but when there is 100 years of it you can only know so much. A lot of players play a lot of Charlie Parker and bebop and take a lot of language from that, which makes them a distinct school (though that is slowly becoming more academic over time).

I'm currently learning Coleman Hawkins "Body and Soul" and it is making me realize a lot about the holes in what I know and what I've been taught.
 

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This is definitely true. Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young basically had to put together their style by themselves, out of what they studied and the at that time fairly young Jazz tradition. They had no choice but to invent language. I think most modern players spend as much or more time mining the tradition for clues or "rules" one how or what to play and subsequently don't spend as much time making their own lines. I know I have spent more time with method book lines than writing my own.

I think the attitude is that you're supposed to "know the tradition" but when there is 100 years of it you can only know so much. A lot of players play a lot of Charlie Parker and bebop and take a lot of language from that, which makes them a distinct school (though that is slowly becoming more academic over time).

I'm currently learning Coleman Hawkins "Body and Soul" and it is making me realize a lot about the holes in what I know and what I've been taught.
Collecting paint, brushes, and various materials to apply them to are things anyone with time and interest can do…being able to use them to make pleasing but familiar renderings is hard, making original ideas come to life is harder, innovating is levels beyond that.
 

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Sonny is my favorite all time player. To my ears, a modern player that approaches improvisation like him is JD Allen. Both in the way he phrases (rhythm included), how he articulates and the register of the sax that he mostly plays in.

I have many of Chris Potter's CDs and Melissa Aldana's Visions. They are both superb players but rhythmically it seems to me that they go beyond.

When I think of Sonny I see someone who became the master he is by going through life and learning from it the old way. By being exposed to and surrounded by music since childhood. He grew up in Harlem, with the benefits and sacrifices that came with it. He was surrounded by Monk, Hawk, Jackie Mc Lean, Art Taylor & the likes. That added to the music he was exposed to through his immediate family who came from the Virgin Islands created his sense of rhythm.

Most modern players have had upbringings that are very different from Sonny. They come with their own influences from different places either from the US or elsewhere in the world. Chile, in the case of Melissa. Like Sonny most of them started at a very young age and had mastered their craft by their late teens or early twenties.

The common denominator between them is that they went to college for a musical education. There, they learned from a broader spectrum of master teachers under very different circumstances, both academically & socially. Their styles and musical message comes from a different perspective altogether as a result.

Lately it seems to me that rhythmic evolution is leading the way because there is so much you can do with 12 pitches & added sounds (altissimo, trills, growls, etc).

A lot of modern players have been rhythmically influenced by ethnic dance rhythms, exotic claves, Indian rhythms, etc.
To my ears some of this work have been done in good taste while others feel less organic & somewhat mathematical. Chris & Melissa have mastered this approach in an organic, tasteful way.

On the other hand, when I hear JD Allen, I do feel that "rawness & bravado" that Sonny had. Listening to him makes me feel like I do when I listen to Sonny, even if he has additional influences that come through his playing.

With that said, I need to disclose that my view on Sonny has been influenced by having read many books about him.
 

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Yeah I forgot about Grant Stewart. He has definitely listened to Rollins and reminiscent of him in many ways. Either way, I really like his playing.
 

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Perhaps this is too obvious an example, considering it's a tribute to Sonny, but Melissa Aldana sure seems to have the rhythmic thing of Sonny's going here:

very impressive!! and refreshing. three fine players

thanks for posting
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Are you suggesting there are folks on this forum who would say they are not Sonny Rollins fans? This notion shocks me for some reason...
The universe is bigger than this forum. I don't think many would deny his greatness, but I have seen people say they hate his tone, just as some say player X had intonation issues. After long enough on the web and forums, you begin to learn that posting negatives says more about you than the topic in question.
 

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Agree with everyone above about Tivon Pennicott and Chris Potter. Somehow, Potter has gotten a reputation as some sort of technical player. It's not a surprise because he's got absolute mastery of the horn and incredible technique, but he's also a really musical and very rhythmic player. Great examples of his rhythmic playing abound (and some have been provided above), but I think some of the very best examples can be found on the trio album "Good Hope", with (bassist) Dave Holland and (tabla player) Zakir Hussain.

You can see Potter playing the title track of the album in this live recording (with Obed Calvaire on drums in place of Zakir Hussain).

 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Great stuff! Some Coltraneisms around the 8 minute mark, too. Excellent.
 

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At the risk of being facetious, are there any players from any period in jazz who really play with Sonny's rhythmic style?

For me, Potter and Lovano are the more contemporary players that have a similar ability to play "in the rhythm section". But I'm not sure there is anyone from the entire history of jazz - on any instrument - who can match Sonny for sheer rhythmic swagger!

(Mark Stryker's Twitter thread of 50 notable live performances (to celebrate Rollins' 91st birthday) is well worth checking out if you haven't already:

)
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
are there any players from any period in jazz who really play with Sonny's rhythmic style?
Sonny is unique, so the answer has to be no. But In the spirit of that approach, I would eliminate 80% of today's players. I believe, this is partly because, while Sonny has the chops to fly as much and as fast as most players, he only used it in small flurries, whereas the modern players will go longer in linear fireworks. Hey, to each his own. Who'd want to sound too much like Sonny or anyone else? But the examples folks are giving above show a lot of "in the spirit of" original talent. Keep 'em coming, there's some amazingly good stuff there!
 

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At the risk of being facetious, are there any players from any period in jazz who really play with Sonny's rhythmic style?
The only one I can think of that is Sonny's match in this area is Zoot Sims. He might be the swingingest tenorman who ever lived.

BTW, though a lot of folks have probably already seen it, this is one of the real treasures on youtube -- a trip back in time...

 

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The only one I can think of that is Sonny's match in this area is Zoot Sims. He might be the swingingest tenorman who ever lived.

BTW, though a lot of folks have probably already seen it, this is one of the real treasures on youtube -- a trip back in time...

I really hated this. Nobody has the right to a hair line like that at 45!
Loved the playing though 😍
 

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I'm betting that somewhere there are a few undiscovered players, burried in the infinite number of YouTube channels of sax on the beach with 300 views from the few who've seen or heard them play.
We probably all know a few people who 'no one has heard of.' I won't even mention my favorite two. Who I go see whenever I can. Who I pick to see over the highly acclaimed, technically sensational players, by whose 7 chorus have bored me silly but who display technical and even creative mastery but don't know how to use space and timing in my mediocre humble opinion. Just a blur of interlocked fast lines and theatrical demonstrations of altissimo.
Sonny is just phenomenal. I can still hang in with his earliest and latest recordings.
 

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Like him or not, he's not just a great saxophonist, he's a very original player, especially rhythmically. This has been "explained" by critcis as being from his particular ethnicity. I appreciate his notions of rhythm and a sort of playfulness he often exhibits. It may be part of why he can play as a saxophone trio and keep up the listener's interest.

There are so many very good saxophone players these days, it feels like I discover a new one every week. For anyone who appreciates the unique personal rhythmic approach of Sonny Rollins, have you found players that have that kind of spirit? Who might I listen to of the newer players of today (past 20 years or so?) who have that kind of personality? There must be some I've never heard of.
He's not a tenor player, but for my money, Steve Coleman is hands down the most rhythmic player alive today. Joe Lovano has a very Rhythmic conception, as well.
 

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Perfect. A friend sent me this a few weeks ago and my reply was, "He's certainly studied his Sonny Rollins." It's possible to incorporate elements of Sonny's sound and style, but not his overall unique improvisational genius. And then there's the Afro-Caribbean influence in his playing, which would be hard to recreate authentically.
Yes, Sonny is truly sui generis. Not only is he rhythmically dextrous, but he's also extraordinarily inventive melodically and harmonically. On his melodic inventiveness, check out Gunther Schuller's analysis of his improvisational approach. Harmonically, I'm always impressed by the way he alternates between going "outside" and flawlessly navigating his way back inside. Though Coltrane was more innovative, in my view Rollins surpasses even him in pure musicality. For my money, Rollins remains the greatest improviser still walking among us. Too bad that he can no longer summon the wind to blow!
 
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