February 12, 2019


Shelved: Sonny Rollins Live at Carnegie Hall (Tom Maxwell, February 2019,  Longreads)

Sonny Rollins was busy in 1957. The tenor saxophonist was present for about sixteen recording sessions, some private, most released, with his own bands as well as with groups led by Miles Davis, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Kenny Dorham. His landmark A Night At The Village Vanguard, a live recording of two sets, one in the afternoon and one in the evening performed on November 3rd at New York's legendary jazz club, became a standard by which other improvisers are judged. In addition, Rollins debuted at Carnegie Hall and headlined the first Monterey Jazz Festival the following year.

"When I look back, people say, 'Oh, you did a lot of records in 1957...' Well, I mean, I had to be told about it," Rollins recently told an interviewer. "So, I guess it was more or less of a norm, you know."

As luck would have it, there was an additional, forgotten Sonny Rollins recording from that year. Voice of America taped the Sonny Rollins Trio performance at Carnegie Hall on November 29, 1957. Named "Thanksgiving Jazz," this benefit show for the Morningside Community Center featured an all-star bill that included Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, and the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra. The tapes were discovered in the Library of Congress vaults during a digitization process in 2005. They'd been recorded, never broadcast, and forgotten.

Inspired by the discovery, Rollins decided to hold a 50th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall in 2007, where a new trio would play the same three songs he performed 50 years earlier, with the intention for Rollins' label to release both performances. This album got shelved -- and not, this time, because of a lack of resources or label interest. Even though he liked the idea in theory of releasing two recordings united by place but not time, Rollins wasn't satisfied with the final product. 

Posted by at February 12, 2019 3:16 PM