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Sonny Rollins: Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4

Read "Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

At this point in his long and storied career, tenor saxman Sonny Rollins is probably incapable of releasing genuinely bad music (which isn't as obvious a statement as it may seem if, for example, you've tried to listen to Bob Dylan's Shadows in the Night Sinatra homage). Still, some sets are better than others, and Sonny recorded live onstage, spontaneously captured in the improvisational moment, is about as good as Sonny gets. “Something about the interaction of human being to ...

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Sonny Rollins: Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4

Read "Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The day may come when the well runs dry, but that day is not upon us. The fourth installment of Sonny Rollins' Road Shows series has arrived, bringing more beauties from the archives to light while bearing out that the genius of the Saxophone Colossus is best demonstrated on the stage. That's where the magic has always happened for him, and that's why these offerings have been so well-received. The first three volumes are already considered to be indispensable items ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 3" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

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, ...

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

Read "Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3 (2014)" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

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 ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 3

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 3" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 2" reviewed by Greg Simmons

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.

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 2" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

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 ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 2

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 2" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

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 ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol. 1

Read "Road Shows, Vol. 1" reviewed by Joel Roberts

There's a YouTube video where Sonny Rollins' longtime trombonist Clifton Anderson discusses playing with the saxophone colossus. Anderson recalls one night when the members of the band thought they were in a pretty good groove. Then Rollins gazed over at Anderson, with a look that said, “Oh, you guys feel like playing tonight. You wanna play? OK, we're gonna play." Anderson says Rollins then proceeded to “take it up and he took it so far up that he left us ...

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Sonny Rollins: Road Shows Vol.1

Read "Road Shows Vol.1" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The sound of Sonny Rollins is unmistakable. Instantly recognizable when he plays just one note, this living legend has long stood out in the crowd of tenor players during the remarkable six decades he's been recording and playing.Since Rollins took control of his music publishing a few years ago, releasing recordings under his own label, Doxy, the possibility of hearing some of Rollins' live music was raised. Apparently 200 live performances have been recorded since the 1980s, and ...

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Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please

Read "Sonny, Please" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Tenor saxophone legend Sonny Rollins took his band into the studio in late 2005 and early 2006 after a tour in Japan to record Sonny Please, his first studio recording in five years. According to Rollins, “...a string of performances tightens up an ensemble...," and a spin of the disc bears that out. A tighter ensemble seems to allow Rollins the freedom and inspiration to really blow, to loosen up his chops. And Sonny Rollins, loose and inspired, is something ...

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Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please

Read "Sonny, Please" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Am I alone in believing that Sonny Rollins, now in his 76th year, may have lost a step or two? Don't read me wrong; the man can still tame the tenor saxophone, let there be no doubt about that. But I fear he may have become a sort of untouchable icon, akin, for example, to Miles Davis, about whom seldom was heard a discouraging word, even though in his later years he produced scant evidence (in my opinion) of creativity ...