Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sonny Rollins - Sonny, Please (Doxy, 2006)

This is Sonny Rollins' first new studio album in five years and the first since the passing of his beloved wife Lucille and the formation of his own record label. That's a lot of changes for one person to go through, but one thing that hasn't changed is his commitment to music. Joining Rollins on this record are Clifton Anderson on trombone, Bobby Broom on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on bass, Steve Jordan on drums and Kimati Dinizulu on percussion. The music is quintessential Sonny Rollins - uptempo swingers, lush ballads and a calypso. The uptempo flag-wavers are the opening track, "Sonny, Please" which allows Rollins to solo at length over a bubbling cauldron of drums and percussion, "Nishi," which may be the highlight of the entire disc, finds our hero digging deep on tenor for a lengthy improvisation brimming with ideas. "Park Palace Parade" rounds the disc out with a funky calypso-like tune adding some whistle effects to keep things moving briskly along. "Someday I'll Find You" and "Remembering Tommy" hold up the ballad end very well, with a longing but never sentimental or sloppy feel. Much has been made in the past about Sonny Rollins' discomfort with the studio environment, but there really isn't a trace of that here. Everyone seems comfortable and happy and the record is well produced. There's also been some talk on websites and blogs about whether Sonny has lost a step in his playing. Truthfully, I don't hear that on this album. His solos are a little shorter and pithier, but I think that comes from a hard-won wisdom and trust in his band rather than any decline in skills. This is a fine album and should make any long time Sonny watcher very happy.

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