[Dixielandjazz] Sonny Rollins & Resting Chops

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Wed, 25 Sep 2002 10:00:44 -0400


Perhaps not OKOM but posted because of a connection to "older players"
and chop problems, The capitalized emphasis is mine. Rollins would also
be a good subject for Dr. Fred Spencer to study ;-)

Cheers,
Steve Barbone

PS. Note also that he is playing many standards and easily recognized
songs for the audience. Not concentrating on hard bop stuff or esoteric
tunes. Hmmmmm?  Presentation anyone?


September 25, 2002 - New York Times

Yes, Improvising While Improvising

By BEN RATLIFF

        Most of Sonny Rollins's recent appearances in New York have been
two-hour-plus affairs; waiting for him to warm up and start delivering
on a high level is part of the ritual. That a saxophone player CAN STILL
PERFORM THIS KIND OF SHOW IN HIS 70's IS REMARKABLE: THAT IT's EXPECTED
OF HIM MAKES ONE WORRY FOR HIS HEALTH.

His SETS at B. B. King Blues Club and Grill on Saturday night were short
by comparison    THE REGULAR 80 MINUTES  but no less impressive.
Except for a few spots (a long calypso finale among them) he
demonstrated how startling improvisation can be carried out within
smaller song structures that don't have open spaces built into them.

As he has done for more than 40 years, Mr. Rollins brings his breadth
and power and idiosyncratic personality to the entire piece, from the
first broaching of the theme until the end. In front of his six-piece
band, he stood with legs apart, moving his torso and the horn, as if
trying to shake surprises from it; he let notes hang and tremble for a
long time, filling up space as he moved through the tunes, and he used
punctuation effects like a single low honk early on while playing the
theme of "Where or When."

Mr. Rollins's sets are like no one else's, not just because of style but
because of material. Aside from the compact, efficacious standards
("East of the Sun, West of the Moon," "You're Mine, You,"), Saturday's
first set included two calypsos and a Hawaiian song, "Sweet Leilani,"
which came toward the end and included some marvelously focused playing,
both by Mr. Rollins and by the pianist Stephen Scott. Mr. Rollins never
seemed dry of ideas, and he didn't dredge up the witty musical
quotations that one hears in his longer shows. He improvised with
digression and authority at the same time; it's a neat encapsulation of
an ideal within the jazz tradition. And Mr. Scott laid far, far back in
the rhythm.

The band was playing with a new drummer, Tommy Campbell, who had a
relaxed swing feeling. But the usual drawbacks of Mr. Rollins's recent
groups remained: the leader is much more interesting to hear than the
whole picture; the background, with the exception of Mr. Scott, remains
largely a background, with a much less flexible feeling.