Monday, September 07, 2020

Know Newk's: Sonny Rollins 90

We inch closer to the 600th post to this thing with the super milestone b'day of perhaps the greatest surviving musician on Earth, and the last of a dying breed.
He retired from touring in 2012, but not before playing as many concerts as anyone on the planet not named Willie Nelson.
In the conversation for Best Melodic Improviser Ever To Live, he probably knows every song ever written.... and how to modally link the best quotes from all of them into one, continuously engaging flow.
I was lucky enough to see him play three times before he retired from performance, and each one was in my top concerts ever attended.
He made his first forays into recording in the late 1940s, and after a few years as a sideman he struck out on his own only to back away in the early 1960s and head for the woodshed.
His retreat and quest to get to the next level sent him to the pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge, and the legendary practice sessions he did up above the East River brought him back to claim his crown as the Saxophone Colossus.
All told he has led over 60 (!!) recording dates, and a whole slew of guest shots too.
And then there's the playing: the unmistakable, unshakable tonality, the restless-yet-completely-at-ease quality of his ridiculously immaculate, multidimensionally structured solos that seem to embrace the tune-first linearity of the oldschool whilst achieving the torrential feeling and multiphonic maelstrom of the New Thing.
You don't last at this Jazz stuff unless you understand you're never done learning, and there's no one more wizened and straight-up encyclopedic than today's new nonagenarian, the already-immortal-and-not-even-dead-yet force of saxophonic will, Sonny Rollins.
We shall mark this most favorable occasion -- it makes me so juiced to cover someone like this and not have to put the little numbers at the bottom -- with a smoking 105 minutes of mayhem taped in France almost 40 years ago, with the added attraction of not one but two guitarists joining in the fun.
This was thankfully rebroadcast a couple of years ago on France Musique, so we have it for you today complete and indistinguishable from an official thing.
Sonny Rollins Quintet
Théâtre du Châtelet
Paris, France

01 Best Wishes 
02 McGhee 
03 Coconut Bread 
04 I'm Old Fashioned 
05 Penny Saved 
06 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 
07 Reel Life 
08 I’ll Be Seeing You
09 Azalea 

Total time: 1:45:10
disc break goes after Track 04

Sonny Rollins - tenor saxophone
Bobby Broom - guitar
Yoshiaki Masuo - guitar
Lincoln Goines - bass
Tommy Campbell - drums

digital capture of a 2018 France Musique rebroadcast
track transitions crossfaded by EN for less choppiness
This is the usual cracking set you'd expect from a titanic player such as Sonny, and his compadres are well up to the task. When both guitars get swinging at once, you start to wonder how this one hasn't ever been released officially.
But then again, I'd be for every single recorded performance of this man being issued in a deluxe box set consisting of, what? 5,000 CDs?
You could probably pop it in on shuffle and never repeat a song over a whole lifetime, too.
And what a lifetime it's been for Newk. In fact, it'd be unhyperbolic to suggest that his has been one of the most lastingly memorable musical lifetimes ever lived by anyone, ever... and I hope he lives another 90 years.--J.

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