From the very first decibel of this unrealistically good, previously unreleased recording, Sonny Rollins bears no bones to inform listeners he is suffering no fools. It is a big, Buescher, bellwether sound, the one that gave Rollins the sound and spirit he needed to tell of a man taking it all on without apology. It is also meant to say that, without argument, unrealistically good here is totally understood as a decisively human characteristic and not necessarily one Rollins aspired to.
So Resonance dug this one up from some archive somewhere up north where it is way colder and the society is a lot nicer, (to pique your interest, there is a fun, fact-filled one-hundred-page booklet with contemporaneous action photos included) and it makes for a great package Rollins In Holland. It is what Resonance always does and why they are, and should be, lauded.
Then there is the music they find, and there is no alternative fiction going to convince us this is not Rollins, along with drummer Han Bennink and late bassist Ruud Jacobs riding one of those unexplainable peaks of clarity which stir great artists from time to glorious time. One of those updraft moments, as when a young hawk begins its ascent sunward, which awards us the ringingly eloquent "Blue Room." As "Four," "Love Walked In," and "Tuned Up" in real-time attest, both then and now, these guys who, just as a brief historical aside and coincidence, had never met or played before, early on slip into a mindset which serves them unfailingly throughout.
Be it the sheer, free artistry or the moxie of the admen, you won't be able to turn your ears away from Rollins In Holland, because then it goes live and all hell breaks loose and that's not idle, hoary punditry either. All hell breaks does break loose and we are transported back to a time when the music did, and was entrusted by the audience to, distract from the worries of the day. And so "Sonnymoon For Two" finds Rollins' soul urging Bennick on during the drummer's hell-raising solos and conclusively, with no-holds-barred, sets the whole riotous tone for the entire disc-and-a-half to follow. This one is as close to five stars as we're going to get. Have a treat. It's been a hell of a year.
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