Friday, March 22, 2013

Sonny Rollins - The Standard Sonny Rollins (RCA, 1964)

The Standard Sonny Rollins  is an interesting mix of music that Sonny Rollins was recording after his famous sabbatical and practice sessions under the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. A mix of lean trio recordings and quartet pieces with Jim Hall sitting in on guitar or Herbie Hancock on piano, the music shows Rollins' trademark gruff lyricism, but also his curiosity in the burgeoning avant-garde. Most of the compositions are well known in the jazz repertoire and were familiar to Rollins. Interestingly, the performances except for an alternate take of “Travellin’ Light” are very short. Running time for brief sketches like “Three Little Words” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” are barely a minute or two long. “My One and Only Love” has a very interesting dynamic between Hancock and Rollins and the leader is able to move in space and develop a thoughtful and powerful statement as the pianist glides underneath. The first two tracks on the album, “Autumn Nocturne” and “Night and Day” place Rollins in a stark trio setting with Bob Cranshaw on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. These tracks are very interesting, harkening back back to the famous albums he had recorded in the trio setting at the Village Vanguard in the 1950’s. The bass and drums provide an outline of the music and plenty of open space for Rollins to develop angular improvisations on familiar melodies. The performances were short but pointed in their excellence. This album was quite varied in the music made available, showing how malleable Sonny Rollins found the standard material of jazz even when the music was at a time of great flux. Standing with one foot in the past of swing and bebop and cautiously looking at the “new thing” this is an interesting period in Rollins musical development, and one worth checking out. The Standard Sonny Rollins -

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