Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
363

Sonny Fortune: Last Night At Sweet Rhythm

Chuck Koton By

Sign in to view read count Views
Sonny Fortune: Last Night At Sweet Rhythm Jellyfish plumes of toxic smoke may no longer hover in the air, but clinking glasses, persistent waiters and the intermittent roaring of drink mixers still conspire to diminish a jazz lover's listening pleasure at a live nightclub performance. Yet, somehow, spontaneous improvisation—the lifeblood of jazz—and the intimate interactions among the musicians and the audience, combine in clubs around the world to consistently conjure sonic magic on the bandstand.

Reed and flute master Sonny Fortune's incendiary blowin' style is especially potent live, as evidenced by his work on albums including Miles Davis' Agharta (Columbia, 1975) and Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine In Europe (Enja, 1992). Nevertheless, after 35 years as a leader, Fortune had yet to record his own band in performance.

Until now.

In January, 2010, Fortune released Last Night At Sweet Rhythm. Sadly, the title also signifies the end of this venerable Greenwich Village jazz club, originally incarnated as Sweet Basil back in the '80s. Fortune chose this final opportunity to record eight original compositions at one of his favorite performance venues.

On the opening "It Ain't What It Was," Fortune explodes on alto sax like a sprinter at the firing of the starter's pistol. But unlike sprinters, Fortune has both the juice and a rhythm section to push him into going the distance on this up-tempo burner. Fortune displays his compositional versatility on "Never Again Is Such A Long Time," an introspective, medium tempo ballad. Fortune, long recognized as a master of the flute, explores sensitive and vulnerable emotional territory, his compelling sound seemingly imploring his lover, "Don't leave!"

The band stretches out on "The Blues Are Green," as Fortune opens with a restrained statement of the melody on alto, before ascending on a relentless exploration of manic intensity. In support, pianist Michael Cochrane employs a McCoy Tyner-esque touch on the ivories, while David Williams' embraceable bass supplies the aural warmth that only flesh on string can yield. On "The Joneses," Fortune's unaccompanied flute establishes a Zen-like tranquility. Drummer Steve Johns' somber yet determined playing enhances Fortune's Eastern mood before a solo of his own takes the song—and the rest of the band—into a torrid blues. Fortune, again on alto, gets off a gritty, emotionally wrenching solo, before the song seamlessly concludes with Zen simplicity, just gentle flute and potent bass drum.

The Sonny Fortune Quartet's inspired performance not only reveals a multi-talented artist still at the top of his game more than four decades after his recording debut, but also bids an appropriate adieu to a night club that will be sorely missed on the New York jazz scene.


Track Listing: It Ain't What It Was; The Blues Are Green; Never Again Is Such A Long Time; In Waves Of Dreams; A Tribute To A Holiday; The Joneses; Laying It Down.

Personnel: Sonny Fortune: alto and soprano saxophone, flute; Michael Cochrane: piano; David Williams: bass; Steve Johns: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sound Reason | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
[no cover]
Infinity Is
Milestone Records
2010
buy
Last Night at Sweet Rhythm
Last Night at Sweet...
Sound Reason
2010
buy
You and the Night and the Music
You and the Night and...
18th & Vine
2007
buy
Sonny Fortune: Trilogy Collection
Sonny Fortune:...
Sound Reason
2006
buy
Continuum
Continuum
Sound Reason
2004
buy
Great Friends
Great Friends
Evidence Music
2003
buy

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.