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Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please

Dan McClenaghan By

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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 to hear.

This is a marvelously sequenced set, alternating four Rollins originals with standards. The title tune, an original, opens the show, with Rollins' unmistakable tenor sax sound blowing over a bubbling rhythm. He's never sounded better, with a "freer" approach than he's displayed in years. Joining Rollins on the set are two longtime cohorts, trombonist Clifton Anderson and bassist Bob Cranshaw, along with guitarist Bobby Broom, drummer Steve Jordan and percussionist Kimati Dinizulu, who adds an ebullient world beat tint to the proceedings.

The Noel Coward standard "Someday I'll Find You" is up next. It's a tune Rollins has recorded before, on Freedom Suite (OJC, 1958)—a trio take, with Oscar Pettiford on bass and Max Roach on drums, the second tune on that album, too, after the sprawling, freewheeling title track. A back-to-back listen to the two versions says not that much has changed; Sonny Rollins still has a distinctive way with a standard, playing in a straightforward powerhouse fashion, with a lot of finesse mixed in with the muscle.

"Remembering Tommy" is another Rollins tune, penned for the late pianist Tommy Flanagan, who played on Rollins' 1996 set Sonny Rollins + 3 (Milestone). Rollins blows freely over a fluid groove, giving way to a relatively restrained Clifton Anderson trombone solo.

Sonny Rollins and company sound superb on Sonny, Please, his best disc since Sonny Rollins +3.

Track Listing: Sonny, Please; Someday I'll Find You; Nishi; Stairway to the Stars; Remembering Tommy; Serenade; Park Place Parade.

Personnel: Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Clifton Anderson: trombone; Bobby Broom: guitar; Bob Cranshaw, electric, acoustic bass; Steve Jordan: drums; Joe Corsello: drums (6); Kimiti Dinizulu: percussion.

Title: Sonny, Please | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Doxy Records

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