Jazz Icons Series 3: Sonny Rollins '65 and '68

C. Michael Bailey By

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Sonny Rollins
Jazz Icons Series 3: Sonny Rollins '65 and '68
Jazz Icons

Sonny Rollins '65 and '68 inaugurates the Jazz Icons Series 3. Previously reviewed among these electrons was Jazz Icons Series 2. Along with Series 1, these three DVD sets comprise an important multimedia library of American Jazz. Series 3 comes as a welcome addition.

Sonny Rollins was 35 years old in 1965. With John Coltrane, he was standing head and shoulders above all other contemporary tenor players. At the time of his Denmark 1965 show at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Rollins was between the recordings of what would become Sonny Rollins on Impulse! and Alfie. Active since the late 1940s, Rollins was enjoying well established and deserved international acclaim.

The 1965 show was performed in the tenor trio format made famous by Rollins in his famous 1957 Village Vanguard performances (A Night At The Village Vanguard).

Joining Rollins is a youthful NHOP (Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen), already a bass prodigy, and the capable Alan Dawson on drums. Rollin's Copenhagen show featured lengthy treatments of "There Will Never be Another You" and "St. Thomas." The 40-odd minute show had as its fulcrum a medley of "Oleo" and "Sonnymoon for Two."

What a difference three years makes. The Denmark 1968 show, recorded by DR TV for the feature Saxophone Colossus, finds Rollins in the same place as Eric Clapton after the death of Jimi Hendrix, without peer. John Coltrane had succumbed to liver cancer July 17th of the previous year, leaving Rollins to man the tenor ship alone.

Rollins' tone is confident, full and virile as he performs in a quartet with, again, NHOP on bass, Kenny Drew on piano, and a young "Tootie" Heath on drums. The four press through an upbeat "On Green Dolphin Street" and a most satisfying, full-bodied "St. Thomas." The quartet closes with a boppish "Four." Rollins performed then as he does now, a bottomless loam of musical ideas perfectly conceived and delivered.

Tracks: Denmark 1965: There Will Never be Another You; St. Thomas; Oleo/Sonnymoon for Two; Darn That Dream; Three Little Words. Denmark 1968: On Green Dolphin Street; St. Thomas; Four.

Personnel: Denmark 1965: Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen: bass; Alan Dawson: drums. Denmark 1968: Sonny Rollins: Tenor Saxophone; Kenny Drew: piano; Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen: bass; Albert "Tootie" Heath: drums.

Production Notes: B and W. Running time: 87 minutes. Denmark 1965: recorded October 31 or November 1, 1965, Copenhagen Jazz Festival by DR TV. Denmark 1968: recorded September 20, 1968, Saxophone Colossus by DR TV. Twenty-four page booklet, liner notes by Joe Goldberg, Ashley Kahn, and Joe Lovano. Rare photographs and memorabilia collage.

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