412

Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Sonny Rollins: Sonny, Please 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 or passion.

Rollins, named Artist of the Year and Best Tenor Saxophonist in '06 by Down Beat magazine and the Jazz Journalists Association, and winner of a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, has released his first studio recording in five years, Sonny, Please, which is, comparatively speaking, less gratifying—to me—than most of the others that preceded it. Even though there are occasional flashes of brilliance, there's far too much unproductive noodling, unstable intonation and treading water while foraging for inspiration to suit my taste. Well, that's Sonny, one may argue—but he once did it better and more effortlessly.

In spite of my misgivings about his durability and resourcefulness, Rollins remains one of the few immediately recognizable tenor voices on the scene, and the album has a couple of things going for it—the choice of material, consisting of three standards and four of the leader's original compositions, is curious but likable, while Rollins has assembled a splendid supporting cast that includes a seasoned rhythm section, a clever improv accomplice in guitarist Bobby Broom and a reliable frontline partner, long-time trombonist Clifton Anderson, who also produced the album.

Besides the title selection, inspired by a phrase his late wife, Lucille, would use to keep his feet on the ground, Rollins wrote "Nishi" for a bassist friend in Japan, "Park Palace Parade" for a now-defunct Harlem dance hall, and "Remembering Tommy" for another close friend, the late pianist Tommy Flanagan. Among the standards, "Stairway to the Stars" is well-known, Ricardo Drigo's "Serenade" considerably less so, while "Someday I'll Find You" is best recalled by my generation (there are a few of us left) as the theme of a popular '30s radio program, Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons, and was previously recorded by Rollins on his Freedom Suite (Fantasy/OJC, 1958).

Although I heard nothing here that caused my spine to tingle or my hair to stand on end, Sonny, Please may just earn Rollins another Grammy Award, thus proving how far removed I am from the ability to render sound judgment. In my opinion, Rollins is one of the foremost tenor saxophonists of the last half-century; on the other hand, I am appraising his latest album, not his body of work, which is as prodigious as it is impressive, and in that narrower context must concede that I was less than blown away.


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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Flesh & Bone CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Generations CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Persuasion" CD/LP/Track Review Persuasion
by Jeff Winbush
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Double Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Double Mirror
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Night Music" CD/LP/Track Review Night Music
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Onward" CD/LP/Track Review Onward
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 2, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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