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Sonny Rollins

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he puts it, “when the red light comes on.” And his perfectionism makes it difficult, sometimes painfully so, to go through multiple takes in search of what he thinks is the least flawed one.

Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten

Read "Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten" reviewed by Chris May

From 1953, when it was set up, to 1964, when it was acquired by ABC, Riverside Records rivalled Blue Note and Prestige as one of the leading independent jazz labels based in New York City. The founders of all three labels were jazz fans who operated on slim margins and became producers partly because they enjoyed ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

John Swana: Philly Gumbo

Read "John Swana: Philly Gumbo" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

From the 1995-2003 archive: This article first appeared at All About Jazz in June 2000. In addition to being one of the finest contemporary jazz trumpet players, John Swana is a human being who is spontaneously authentic and refuses to play a false role. Having reached the ripe old age of 38, John has ...

ARTICLE: OPINION

On Missing Live Jazz

Read "On Missing Live Jazz" reviewed by Douglas Groothuis

This pandemic has snatched much from us through its reign of disease and death. We have lost family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to COVID-19. Millions have lost jobs or fear losing them. By all accounts, the whole thing stinks. We try to cling to what remains, and we hope and pray for restoration. How ...

ARTICLE: REASSESSING

Piano

Read "Piano" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Following his debut as a leader on, Wynton Kelly: New Faces -New Sounds (Blue Note, 1951), pianist Kelly surfaced again some seven years later, this time on Riverside Records, with the simply titled Piano. The length of time between leader recordings is a testament to the pianist's value in a supporting role for artists like Dinah ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Sir Stevie: Jammin' on Stevie Wonder - Part 1

Read "Sir Stevie: Jammin' on Stevie Wonder - Part 1" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

Stevie Wonder has more entries in the Real Book than any other pop musician, The Beatles included. It is not surprising therefore that his Songbook has been mined by hundreds of jazz musicians, including the likes of Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon or Herbie Hancock. To mark the 70th birthday of ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

First, Ohm’s Law (musically)

Read "First, Ohm’s Law (musically)" reviewed by Marc Cohn

Starting out, a 'physics lesson' courtesy of Seamus Blake, Hank Mobley & Tain! We revive our R&B compare and contrast feature with Ivory Joe Hunter versus Jimmy Smith. Centennials? Of course: Bird and Dave Brubeck (solo)! Along the way, John Patitucci, Bud Powell, Gregory Agid and Anat Cohen, as well as our continuing chronological celebration of ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEW

Matthew Shipp: Poetic Connection

Read "Matthew Shipp: Poetic Connection" reviewed by Seton Hawkins

It is difficult to describe the impact of pianist and composer Matthew Shipp without descending into hyperbole. A core figure in the now-legendary David S. Ware Quartet, a bandleader with a staggering recording output, a groundbreaking curator for the influential Blues Series of Thirsty Ear Records, Matthew Shipp has also more recently broken new ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

AuB: AuB

Read "AuB" reviewed by Chris May

Twin-tenor frontlines are almost as old as jazz itself. Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane's meeting on the title track of Rollins' Tenor Madness (Prestige, 1956) may be the starting point for some listeners, but AAJers do not need reminding that the tradition was popular in live performances as far back the 1920s. Later, with the arrival ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Acoustic Jazz in the 70’s - McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Sonny Rollins, VSOP, Scott Hamilton (1972 - 1978)

Read "Acoustic Jazz in the 70’s - McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Sonny Rollins, VSOP, Scott Hamilton (1972 - 1978)" reviewed by Russell Perry

Jazz-rock fusion was a powerful force in the music in the early seventies, but noticeably began to run out of steam mid-decade. European influences began to gain traction as the decade progressed as represented by the rise of ECM. American acoustic jazz musicians, who seemed to be taken for granted, continued to produce fine music and ...


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