Sonny Rollins Live in Vienne

C. Michael Bailey By

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Sonny Rollins Live in Vienne

Sonny Rollins Live in Vienne provides a good companion DVD to Jazz Icons Series 3: Sonny Rollins '65 and '68. Taken together, the two DVDs juxtapose a 33 and 38 year-old Rollins with a 76 year-old Rollins. In both cases, Rollins is the epitome of "cool." In the 1960s he was the urbane and classy trendsetter, first sporting a mohawk before shaving his head and appearing with a jaunty goatee. The present-millennium Rollins is the hipster Aristotle, fully-bearded, nattily dressed in white shoes, red flowing pants, a black tunic, and clad in cool shades.

Rollins leads a thoughtfully efficient band of Bobby Broom, guitar, Bob Cranshaw, electric bass, Victor Lewis, drums, Kimati Dinizulu, percussion, and long-time frontline partner, Clifton Anderson, trombone. The tenor-trombone duo is one not often employed these days, save for the (Jazz) Crusaders. The middle-low brass of the trombone and middle-low reeds of the tenor make for a well-grounded, blended tone, one on which the rasp of the tenor is muted by the smoothness of the trombone. Add to this the round flat tone of Bobby Broom's guitar and the sextet rounds out very organically.

The set is made up of five lengthy performances of Rollins originals and not-so-standard standards. The recital opens with a full-throated take on Irving Berlin's "They Say It's Wonderful." This is followed by a signature Rollins' Calypso original, "Global Warming." Sonny Rollins could mine the beat of South Seas islands from now until kingdom come and never wear it out. It has infectiously evolved since "St. Thomas." Anchoring the performance is an inspired reading of Rollins' "Sonny, Please" from the saxophonist's most recent release of the same title. The phrase is one Rollins's late wife would use when the saxophonist was being difficult. Rollins plays so passionately the listener can almost hear what he is thinking.

The disc closes with 21-plus minutes of the Rollins original "Don't Stop the Carnival" from G Man (Milestone,1991). The piece is a tightly sprawling landscape on which the saxophonist and his band have ample room to move. It is most gratifying to see perhaps the greatest living jazz musician playing before a large and appreciative audience in the music capital of the world. Sonny Rollins is a treasure among treasures.

Tracks: Vienna 2006: They Say It's Wonderful; Global Warming; Sonny, Please; I See Your Face Before Me; Don't Stop The Carnival.

Personnel: Vienna 2006: Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Clifton Anderson: trombone; Bobby Broom: guitar; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Victor Lewis: drums; Kimati Dinizulu: percussion.

Production Notes: Color. Running time: 77 minutes. Vienna 2006:, CLC, June 29, 2006.

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