Sonny Rollins Symphony Hall San Francisco, CA September 30, 2012 Excitement 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 thingsrecently starting his own Doxy record label (with two releases so far)and was named a Fellow at the Kennedy Center last year.
Rollins sports a flowing mane of white hair and a white beard; he was wearing a long white shirt on this evening. As took the stage, he was greeted with a heartfelt standing ovation. Unlike many jazz legends, Rollins is quite loquacious, and has a series of compositions named after his mentors and friends in the jazz universe.
Rollins opened with the first of these, "D Cherry," a lovely tribute dedicated to the "free spirit" of pocket trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry
, Rollins' nephew. Anderson received his first trombone from his uncle and has been playing with Rollins' group for more than two decades. The tune ended on a crescendo, with the saxophonist bent over.
But not for long. Rollins swiftly launched into legendary pianist Randy Weston
feeling" (referencing the late drum legend), reminded Rollins that "there's another guy that I need to write a song about." Anderson's solo interpolated gently with Rollins' tenor, evidence of their longstanding collaboration. Afro-haired and glasses-wearing drummer Kobie Watkins
who, according to Rollins, "was sort of my mentor. Everybody loved him. J.J.: are you listening? This is for J.J." Watkins played wire brushes for this one, and Anderson soloed again.
Following a short burst of sound, marking the beginning of "Don't Stop the Carnival," Rollins announced "That's our show for tonight," before playing through the tune, clenching his fist in the air and leaving the stage to the accompaniment of a triumphant standing ovation.