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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

SONNY ROLLINS
OUR MAN IN JAZZ
R.C.A. Victor Gold Series 74321 851602


Crotchet midprice 


1. Oleo
2. Dearly Beloved
3. Doxy
4. You Are My Lucky Star
5. I Could Write A Book
6. There Will Never Be Another You

Sonny Rollins - Tenor Saxophone, Don Cherry - Cornet, Bob Cranshaw - Bass ( 1-3 ) Henry Grimes - Bass ( 4-6 ) Billy Higgins - Drums.
1 - 3 recorded at The Village Gate, Greenwich Village N.Y.C. July 27 - 30 1962.
4 - 6 recorded R.C.A. Studios N.Y.C. February 20 1963.




In retrospect the 1960's must be viewed as a golden age for creativity in jazz. Musicians like Sonny Rollins were experimenting with the " Free " concepts of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and eventually adding some of these ideas to their own post-bop vocabulary. Rollins in particular proved to be very successful at this - in all truthfulness because of his probing and analytic outlook he was probably heading in this direction anyway. This is a particularly fascinating release as it shows Rollins in a period of great change.

The first three tracks ( which comprised the original vinyl issue ) were recorded live at The Village Gate. The last three tracks come from a studio date some seven months later and have been have been previously issued, to my knowledge, on " Three In Jazz " and one of the versions of "What's New". One aspect of these recordings that is often referred to is that is that Rollins had booked Ornette Coleman's trumpet player and drummer. Interestingly enough, Don Cherry was the last frontline player Rollins used on anything like a regular basis until he introduced his nephew Clifton Anderson on trombone in the mid 1980's.

As a whole the music on this disc uses a never-ending stream of varying tempos. There is a great deal of group interplay both during the themes and during the improvisations. The tunes, all either well-known standards or familiar Rollins originals, are given very convoluted and unusual readings. Often there is that wonderful feeling of demolition bit by bit and then of reconstruction of which Rollins is still the absolute master. One feels that he examines each number a note at a time and then either leaves it or re-arranges it in a form of his own preference.

There are so many instances of sheer magic on this disc that it would be wrong to attempt a tune by tune analysis. Perhaps my favourite moment, however, is when Rollins is in full flight on "Oleo " and is seemingly brushing aside Cherry's interjections like a rugby player running the length of the pitch to score a try. "Oleo " is 25 minutes long but there is not a dull moment and there is certainly no lapse in creativity throughout.

This album was an old friend on vinyl and it is good to hear it in this well re-mastered format. Everyone is on great form - Rollins is even experimenting with such effects as split tones and multi-phonics. Although there is no piano or guitar on any of these titles the lack of any chordal accompaniment is not missed - indeed it is often easier to hear the interplay between the instruments and it was possibly more conducive to an increased reaction from the performers.
This is a great and underrated jazz album - in its own way as significant as "Giant Steps " or "Kind Of Blue "and is a foretaste of things to come on such albums as "East Broadway Rundown."


Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living Coventry.

 


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