Sonny Rollins, a titan of improvisation and composition, that he has nothing left to prove and can instead concentrate in sharing his wealth of experience. That spirit is sharing is on display here, the third volume of live music released under the Road Shows banner, cherry picking tracks from 2001 - 2007 in the company of Clifton Anderson on trombone and Bob Cranshaw on bass throughout with further accompaniment of guitar, piano, drums and percussion on selected tracks. “Biji” opens the album with one of Rollins’ patented Caribbean themed improvisations and gets things off to a rousing start. “Someday I'll Find You” is a wonderful ballad with an extraordinary saxophone solo, like he has tapped into an endless wellspring of ideas and his band is wise enough to quiet their own playing and let the great man hold forth. Things ramp back up with “Patanjali” which has bubbling percussion and some trombone riffing setting the stage for blastoff. Sonny uses surprisingly rough and guttural accents as part of his solo, really pushing himself, and clearly not content to allow himself to coast under any circumstances. On “Solo Sonny” dispenses with any accompaniment entirely and allowing his mastery of the instrument to float unencumbered. He spools out great melodic lines, occasionally hinting at a song, but mostly allowing for a sense of flowing joy that his playing can bring. “Why Was I Born?” doubles down to an epic 20+ minute length. It takes the form of a medium-up tempoed song, which seems to be his favored speed, and on this performance, he is very patient allowing the music to come to him before billowing out an epic extrapolation before coming back into the fold to trade phrases with the drummer and wrapping things up. There is a final rousing coda of “Don’t Stop the Carnival” before giving way to rapturous applause. It’s easy to see why Sonny Rollins prefers to release music recorded live: when the spirit moves him, nothing even comes close. Road Shows, Vol.3 - amazon.com
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John Butcher - Nigemizu (Uchimizu, 2015) ****½
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