September 20, 2007

CONVERSATION PIECE:

A Reunion of Giants, 50 Years On (FRED KAPLAN, 9/20/07, NY Times)

Sonny Rollins’s concert at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night was billed as the 50th anniversary of his first performance there. More significant, it was the first time since 1958 — nearly a 50th anniversary — that he’s played with Roy Haynes. The greatest living tenor saxophone player, teamed again with arguably the greatest living drummer — now that’s historic.

The concert’s first half, when the two were joined by the young bassist Christian McBride, lived up to the fanfare, in unexpected ways. The high points of Mr. Rollins’s concerts are usually the extended solos: sinuous improvisations, going on for dozens of choruses, no two alike, in which he explores every chord, theme or counterpoint a song seems to offer, then taps some uncharted crevice and digs or soars on to blow more. This set wasn’t like that. Perhaps because he was playing with peers (a rarity in recent decades), he held back, simmered where he usually boiled, and played as one of three equals.

The unlikely highlight was “Some Enchanted Evening,” which Mr. Rollins opened by reciting the melody with his lush and husky tone, while Mr. Haynes flapped brushes in triple time, and Mr. McBride plucked whole notes that anchored the chords without confining his band mates. When they got to the part where most musicians take solos, Mr. Rollins instead tossed out a fragment of the melody, then Mr. Haynes filled in the rest, and on the interplay went, bar after bar, the two sometimes overlapping, sometimes not.

It felt like an ambling, elegant conversation between old friends, which in fact it was. It set off a goose-bump sensation, a shared intimacy one rarely encounters in a jazz concert. And the full house gave it the night’s lustiest applause.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2007 10:52 AM
Comments

I look forward to the recording.

Posted by: Twn at September 20, 2007 11:35 AM
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