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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3

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The third installment of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins' live performances, Road Shows, Volume 3 is the most uniformly outstanding of the series. A task that is hard to achieve since the first two albums were superb musical gems in their own right. Despite covering a span of 11 years the current disc demonstrates extreme thematic cohesiveness, mostly thanks to Rollins' timeless and unique innovative style.His eight-minute unaccompanied improvisation “Solo Sonny" recorded in St Louis in 2009, for example, is filled with fluid harmonies, passionate spontaneity and whimsy as he quotes from such diverse standards as “Oh! Susanna" and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3 (2014)

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Legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins has proven himself to be one of the most durable, consistently strong musicians of any era and genre. He started playing tenor saxophone in the 1940s, came into his own as a recognized player in the 1950s, and, except for short interruptions has been working and recording ever since. The reason he has been so steadily successful and productive is that he has unswervingly pursued his own exciting and highly inventive style that incorporates the bebop and hard bop idioms in a timeless way. His live performances and recordings therefore have remained fresh and vital ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3

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Look beyond harmony, go past technique, and pay no mind to personality. When you do all of that, Sonny Rollins still remains one of the greatest improvisers to ever wield an instrument. And why is that? The answer is simple: Rollins is forever in a state of becoming. He's the rare player who doesn't play towards a destination; he plays for the journey, and his journeys are epic and legendary. While that's hardly news to any longtime jazz fans, those who need a reminder need look no further than Rollins' Road Shows--compilations of live performances cherry-picked by ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Sonny Rollins: Barcelona Voll-Damm Jazz Festival, Spain, November 20, 2012

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Sonny RollinsPalau de la Música44 Barcelona Voll-Damm International Jazz FestivalNovember 20, 2012Traditionally marked in the calendar for being fascist dictator Franco's death anniversary, November 20--or 20-N, as referred to in Spain--has frequently been accompanied by some infamous demonstrations where the restrictive and attacking attitudes that would, by now, hopefully be a thing of the past still take the chance to make a shout in a public space. For an eager audience, this day in 2012 will be remembered as a live music encounter with a living legend, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins; a unique experience that, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Sonny Rollins: San Francisco, CA, September 30, 2012

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Sonny Rollins Symphony Hall San Francisco, CASeptember 30, 2012Excitement was palpable among people milling around the entrance of Symphony Hall in downtown San Francisco during the evening of September 30, 2012, where legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins was to appear.Just past 8:00pm, he was introduced by Randall Kline of SFJAZZ, the sponsor of the city's jazz festival. A New York City, native, Theodore Walter “Sonny" Rollins has long been a fixture on the jazz scene. At 82, he's still trying new things--recently starting his own Doxy record label (with two releases so far)--and was named ...

Sonny Rollins: A Diamond in the Rough

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[Sonny Rollins was finishing up an extended tour at the time of this 1978 interview. Milestone Records had brought him together with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Al Foster to form a group called the Milestone Jazzstars that played 20 shows that year and recorded a live album. He talked about other tours, his work in film, and his continuing musical development.] Sonny Rollins doesn't get at all excited about being called the world's greatest tenor saxophonist.“Naturally you feel satisfied up to a point," he says. “But I have enough common sense, and I've been ...

INTERVIEWS

Sonny Rollins: Mark of Greatness

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Making two trips to the White House within a calendar year, to receive two of the nation's most prestigious awards bestowed upon artists, is more than fairly momentous. Those are significant feathers in the ol' cap--surely reasons to crow or, at the very least, feel pretty satisfied about oneself.So it had to be a hell of a year for Sonny Rollins--had to be. But, with the ever level-headed, realistic and humble Rollins, one wouldn't really notice it. He doesn't classify 2011 as that special. Rollins sees it as a year when he continued to develop his music and--at ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

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The Beacon Theatre in New York holds 2,700 people, and--much like fans claiming to have seen the final game of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field--there may already be 20,000 people who swear they were there for Sonny Rollins' 80th Birthday performance. At 80 years old, Rollins is still a damn good tenor saxophonist, and Roadshows Volume 2 captures terrific performances from three 2010 live dates, with a heavy emphasis on that birthday party and some A-list guests. There really isn't a clinker on this record, but a standout moment that will undoubtedly be remembered fondly for years ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

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Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, into his eighth decade now, has nothing left to prove but keeps doing it anyway. The iconic artist has put out classic albums like Newk's Time (Blue Note Records, 1957) and Saxophone Colossus (Prestige Records, 1956) and The Bridge (RCA Records, 1962), continuing to maintain a vibrant career for more than six decades and surging forward with with 2008's Road Shows, Volume 1 (Doxy Records) and now, with Road Shows, Volume 2.This is, as the title suggests, a live outing, with four of the six tunes recorded in 2010 at Rollins 80th birthday concert ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

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Road Shows, Vol. 1 (Doxy, 2008) was the cure for all that ailed Sonny Rollins fans who were familiar with his herculean abilities in live settings, yet disappointed with some of his studio output. Famous for being his own worst critic, the tenor saxophonist cherry-picked all of the material for that outing, meeting near-universal acclaim upon its release. Now, three years later, Rollins returns with his highly anticipated sequel. Road Shows, Vol. 2 adheres to the same basic principle, with Rollins putting his stamp of approval on live material that meets his exceptionally high standards, but differs ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: Newk's Time

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Possibly the premier US remastering shop, Music Matters continues to reissue Blue Note albums of the 1950s and 1960s on premium 180 gram, 45rpm vinyl. These recordings are at the heart of the jazz canon and should be heard by any serious student of the music. Now, one of the finest performances in the Blue Note catalogue, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins' 1957 date Newk's Time, has hit the street. Newk's Time features some of Rollins' most robust playing of the era. Big and bold, self-assured and powerful, Rollins underscores his mastery of the tenor on every track. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Rollins: On Impulse / There Will Never Be Another You

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What could be better than an album by Sonny Rollins? Two albums by Sonny Rollins, especially a reissue of two treasured Impulse! releases--On Impulse! (1965) and There Will Never Be Another You (1978)--in their entirety, on a single 75-minute CD. That's a lot of satisfying tenor time with the Saxophone Colossus. On the heels of his 80th birthday, there's not a lot that can be added to the musical criticism of Rollins. More often than not his press is more lionization than reproach, and with good reason. His huge sound, consistently melodic and accessible, combined with his supreme ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Sonny Rollins, Live at NJPAC

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Sonny RollinsNew Jersey Performing Arts CenterNewark, NJMay 13, 2011 The expectations for a Sonny Rollins concert have always been extraordinarily high. One anticipates waves of awe-inspiring solos and jaw-dropping feats of musical dexterity from the saxophone colossus, and more often than not, he delivers. But in recent years, something else has begun to happen when Rollins performs. As he ambled onto the stage at NJPAC in Newark, a stooped 80-year-old man with a wild mane of white hair, wearing dark sunglasses and an un-tucked white shirt, Rollins instantly transformed into a heroic ...

DAN'S DEN

Sonny Brings the Presents to His Own 80th Birthday

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Sonny Brings the Presents To His Own 80th Birthday Sonny Rollins threw himself an 80th birthday party at New York's restored Beacon Theater on September 10 --he was born on the 7th-- and it was he who brought the gifts. And what a cornucopia! This was one of those rare times when you know that you're in the best of all possible places in the world. In inspired form, from first note to last, he never left the stage and, as is his wont, took no intermission. The silver- maned and bearded Sonny simply made music of ...



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