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Sonny Rollins Road Shows, Vol. 1 Review

Live. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Here's hoping he can long continue to do this kind of stuff.

Chris Jones 2008

With over 65 (yes, 65) years treading the boards behind him, you'd expect Sonny Rollins' light to have dimmed somewhat. Wrong. As many who know and love the man's work will testify, there are two Sonny Rollins: the tenor sax man, self deprecating and almost loath to commit himself to tape; and the wild, restless, free and impassioned Rollins who seems to show no signs of resting; loving to blow live on stage, and gaining artistic satisfaction from interacting with both his band and his audience.

It thus makes sense that the best way to hear Sonny is either in person or recorded in concert. Road Shows Vol.1 does the latter quite spectacularly. Halfway through track one, Best Wishes, and you're already wondering when he'll be playing near you so you can watch the saxophone colossus do his thing one more time.

Drawn from a plethora of live dates covering the period 1980 -2007 and from places as far-flung as Tokyo to Toulouse, the material ranges from standards (Some Enchanted Evening) to classics (Tenor Madness) and even returns Rollins to his Caribbean roots with Nice Lady. Sonny's band varies throughout containing people like Bobby Broom (guitar); Clifton Anderson (trombone); Mark Soskin, Stephen Scott (piano); Christian McBride, Bob Cranshaw (upright bass); Jerome Harris (electric bass); Al Foster, Roy Haynes, Victor Lewis, Perry Wilson (drums); Victor See Yuen, Kimati Dinizulu (percussion). Each line up acquits itself marvellously, with only some rather outre electric bass on Easy Living giving you reason to pick the smallest of holes.

Those 65 plus years of experience mean that the tenor slides, dips and never for one instance falters. It's the sound of a man still in love with music after all these years. Shows Vol.1 is an album to remind you that jazz doesn't have to be either 'difficult' or loungey. Sometimes it's just good clean fun. Here's hoping he can long continue to do this kind of stuff.

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