September 13, 2010


A Master Class in Going the Distance, With No Compromises (NATE CHINEN, 9/13/10, NY Times)

Any concert by Sonny Rollins, the great unflagging sovereign of the tenor saxophone, bears the promise of a momentous occasion. His sold-out show at the Beacon Theater on Friday night delivered rapturously on that promise, with something else besides.[...]

The concert’s culminating moment, the one that flagged the evening as historic, involved a pair of unannounced guests, starting with the drummer Roy Haynes, who is 85 and seems maybe half that age. As he did for a concert at Carnegie Hall a few years ago, Mr. Haynes joined Mr. Rollins in a trio with the bassist Christian McBride, 38, whose nimble style and enveloping sound make the absence of a chordal instrument seem negligible. They assayed “Solitude” at a gentlemanly tempo, Mr. Rollins and Mr. McBride swapping improvised asides. Eventually Mr. Haynes took over, with a solo of quick and startling intensity, a Florida thunderstorm hijacking a midsummer afternoon.

Next up was a blues, “Sonnymoon for Two,” on which Mr. Rollins seemed distracted at first, bleating tentative phrases rather than hitting a stride. He then stepped to the microphone and, in a hopeful tone, implored his next mystery guest onto the stage. It was the alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, the patriarch of free jazz, who also turned 80 this year. Given that no one can seem to recall a public collaboration by Mr. Rollins and Mr. Coleman — mutual admirers and reciprocal influences — this was worth the wait.

Bending at one knee as he approached his host, Mr. Coleman was soon weaving through the tune, in his own enigmatic dialect, a waft of bright, interrogatory phrases. And what followed was extraordinary: Mr. Rollins, obviously inspired, picked up the thread, foraging outside the established key, with a frontier intrepidness that was nevertheless true to his own voice. Both saxophonists committed without compromise, and while the results were jangling and imperfect, it was a brave imperfection, a meaningful one.

Sonny Meets Ornette: A Roundup (Patrick Jarenwattananon, 9/13/10, NPR)

Perhaps you have heard that Sonny Rollins played an 80th birthday concert on Friday night. He played with his newly-retooled working band. And Roy Hargrove. And Christian McBride. And Jim Hall. And Roy Haynes. And Ornette Coleman. Yes, Ornette Coleman.


Seemingly everybody and their mother — at least with respect to jazz writing — was in attendance. (Even the @jazzfamoose!) Here are some recaps from journalists and fans...

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2010 2:11 PM
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