Friday, July 16, 2004

Sonny Rollins – Paris 1/15/63
 
I traded for this disc with a gentleman from Argentina. He’s a big Don Cherry collector so I was excited to get a chance to hear Sonny Rollins with Cherry in a transitional and experimental period for both men, and in a live setting to boot.
 
During Sonny Rollins' stay on the RCA label, he played in many different settings, recording the classic album The Bridge with guitarist Jim Hall and then collaborating on a fascinating record with Coleman Hawkins. He also recorded with the Ornette Coleman group (sans Coleman) which featured Don Cherry. It’s to Rollins’ credit that he met and experimented with the new free-jazz musicians of the period.
 
This concert finds Rollins in Cherry’s company along with Henry Grimes on bass (it’s great to see Grimes back on the scene after a prolonged absence.) Rounding out the band is another Coleman veteran, Billy Higgins on drums. The music is a mix of originals (Sonnymoon for Two) and standards, and the absence of a piano player allows the band more space within which to improvise. Rollins and Cherry make for a surprisingly nimble front line whether improvising collectively or taking turns soloing, they never seem to conflict or get in each other’s way.
 
This is an interesting snapshot in the careers of both Rollins and Cherry. Both would go on to stellar careers, Rollins as the preeminent tenor saxophone soloist in jazz and Cherry as one of the most tireless experimenters of ethnic and world music. This is a fascinating meeting of the minds.
 
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