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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Freedom Suite

Riverside 0888072305076



1. The Freedom Suite
2. Someday I'll Find You
3. Will You Still Be Mine?
4. Till There Was You (take 4)
5. Shadow Waltz
6. Till There Was You (take 1)
7. Till There Was You (take 3)
8. There Will Never Be Another You
Sonny Rollins - Tenor sax
Oscar Pettiiford - Bass
Max Roach - Drums

Now reissued in the "Keepnews Collection", this album was contentious when it first appeared in 1958. It is said that the album in its original form included a note from Sonny Rollins himself, saying: "America is deeply rooted in Negro culture; its colloquialisms, its humor, its music. How ironic that the Negro, who more than any other people can claim America's culture as his own, is being persecuted and repressed; that the Negro, who has exemplified the humanities in his very existence, is being rewarded with inhumanity". Within a short time, the album was withdrawn and reissued with the new title Shadow Waltz and Rollins' quotation deleted. We may hope that such short-sighted censorship is now dead in the USA, which has just elected its first African-American president.

The title-track of this album is like a mini-symphony, in four separate movements, lasting nearly 20 minutes. The movements are unified by reference to the opening theme - rather in the style which Ornette Coleman was developing at almost the same time. Rollins stretches out in some extended improvisations, but he allows plenty of space to his bassist and drummer (Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach). The most thrilling movement is the last of the four, where Max Roach plays some energetic breaks.

The remaining tracks provide an interesting contrast, in that they are mostly popular tunes, including the two waltzes, Someday I'll Find You and Shadow Waltz. We know by now that Sonny Rollins has a predilection for choosing songs not attempted by many jazz musicians and he usually works his magic on them, as he does here, proving that even the most unlikely numbers can be suitable subjects for jazz improvisation. This is particularly true of Till There Was You, which appears here in three different takes. Another bonus track is There Will Never Be Another You, which Pettiford and Roach recorded as a duet, because Rollins was late arriving at the studio. Pettiford plays the melody on bass, then improvises on the tune before sharing fours with Roach and assisting in Max's drum solo (splendid brushwork!).

The work of the bassist and drummer is as estimable as Rollins' own playing, which is as inventively original as ever. Strange, then, that the year after this album was recorded, Sonny withdrew for three years from playing in public (except practising on New York's Williamsburg Bridge!), because he was unsatisfied with his playing - as well as being unhappy for other reasons. In fact his playing has maintained a remarkably high standard for many decades - and he is still at it!

Tony Augarde





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