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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Sonny, Please

Doxy 060251 7086203





1. Sonny, Please
2. Someday I’ll Find You
3. Nishi
4. Stairway to the Stars
5. Remembering Tommy
6. Serenade
7. Park Palace Parade

Sonny Rollins – Tenor sax
Clifton Anderson – Trombone
Bobby Broom – Guitar
Bob Cranshaw – Electric and acoustic bass
Steve Jordan – Drums (tracks 1-5, 7)
Kimati Dinizulu – Percussion
Joe Corsello – Drums (track 6)

A new album from Sonny Rollins is an event, especially now that he is well into pensioner status. He is a phenomenon on the tenor sax and, even though he doesn’t come from Texas, he has that full-bodied tone that characterises Texan tenorists. He mixes this with Coltrane-like wildness, salted with some jokey quotations.

He is also a considerable composer and he wrote four of the tunes on this CD, starting with the title-track. It is based on a syncopated triplet riff, and Sonny’s playing is astonishing in its power. By contrast, trombonist Clifton Anderson sounds quite restrained but he makes a perfect foil for Rollins, combining with him as a mellifluous front-line pairing. Guitarist Bobby broom plays some tasteful solos, while bassist Bob Cranshaw plays absolutely straight, laying down a solid foundation on which Sonny can build his intricate constructions. Steve Jordan contributes some electrifying drumming, breaking up the beat to add extra spice.

I love the way that Rollins plays ballads, with a sort of tough tenderness. He chooses unhackneyed tunes like Noel Coward’s Somewhere I’ll Find You and treats them with respect, adding occasional touches of affectionate humour. All his ballad performances contain a vein of tender lyricism.

Rollins’ original Remembering Tommy is particularly catchy, and on Nishi (another of his compositions) he makes the saxophone growl and grunt as if he’s playing rhythm-and-blues, ending with a berserk outbreak reminiscent of Roland Kirk. The album ends in calypso mood, with the sort of Caribbean atmosphere that Rollins helped to popularize in jazz. Anderson’s muted trombone flutters attractively, and Rollins makes a naughty allusion to Swanee River!

Every Rollins performance sounds exploratory – avoiding easy clichés and keeping the listener alert because you never know what’s going to happen. Sonny, please – keep on playing with this level of inspiration, preferably for ever!

Tony Augarde


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