Friday, June 29, 2007

Listen, Sonny

I've got an interview with Sonny Rollins scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, in advance of his appearance here and in Albuquerque as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. Rollins is a true "cultural exception," whose nearly 60 years of recording (if I have it right, his first session in the studio was with Babs Gonzales in January of 1949, when he was 19 years old) includes a series of remarkable and risky maneuvers. I suddenly, however, feel like I know next to nothing about Rollins, despite listening to his music since I was about 9. Some serious homework is in order.

In the spirit of blind ignorance, I ask my readers: what would you ask Mr. Rollins if you had him on the phone? Here's my initial ideas, aided by my old friend Emery: Why the pianoless trio at VV? What about East Broadway Rundown? The brief period with Don Cherry, Henry Grimes and Billy Higgins, what was the impetus behind that? Any solo tenor performances in the works? I wonder if Rollins has heard the Vandermark 5 Free Jazz Classics? New band, new CD?

I gave Sonny, Please! a first listen this morning. Rollins's playing is stunning; his tone, his phrasing, his spirited and playful, utterly relaxed yet energized statements. It amazes me sometimes how the masters can deliver thoroughly satisfying work for me in settings and styles that otherwise are not so much my cup of tea. (I feel this way about Miles Davis on Aura and Amandla, for example, or Elvin Jones in some of the settings he's been in, or Lester Bowie on David Bowie's Black Tie/White Noise).

Off to lucubrate, any and all suggestions welcome.

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