December 19, 2008


Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2008: Crowned by one immortal recording. (Fred Kaplan, Dec. 18, 2008, Slate)

The best jazz album of 2008 is such a clear choice—not just a stunning disc of music but a breakthrough in music history—that I will say this: If any jazz critics out there leave it off their Top 10 lists, don't trust another word that they say about anything.

1. The album is Sonny Rollins' Road Shows, Vol. 1 (on his own label, Doxy Jazz), a collection of live tracks from 1980-2007, and it's one of his three or four best recordings ever. Rollins, the greatest tenor saxophone player around, famously feels uncomfortable in studios; a good night in front of a live crowd beats nearly anything he lays down before a control booth. A fan named Carl Smith has been collecting bootleg tapes of live Rollins concerts for decades, but his overtures to the man went ignored—until the past few years, when the two joined forces. Rollins has been listening to the tapes. It also turns out that he's been recording some of his gigs as well, straight off the mixing board, and he's been listening to those, too. Rollins is deeply self-critical; he likes very little of what he's ever done. The seven tracks on Road Shows, Vol. 1 are his picks; they're the performances that he could at least tolerate hearing.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2008 7:18 AM
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