1. They Say It's Wonderful
2. In a Sentimental Mood
3. Sonnymoon for Two
4. I Can't Get Started
5. Rain Check
6. St. Thomas
Sonny Rollins - Tenor sax
Russell Malone - Guitar: (tracks 1, 3-6)
Bob Cranshaw - Electric bass (tracks 1, 2, 4-6)
Kobie Watkins - Drums (tracks 1, 2, 4-6)
Sammy Figueroa - Percussion (tracks 1, 2, 4-6)
Jim Hall - Guitar (track 2)
Ornette Coleman - Alto sax (track 3)
Christian McBride - Acoustic bass (track 3)
Roy Haynes - Drums (track 3)
Roy Hargrove - Trumpet (tracks 4, 5).
This album is rather different from the first volume of Road Shows,
I reviewed here in 2009. That CD contained Sonny Rollins' choice
of his favourite recordings from several different concerts. Although
this new album has a similar title, it simply consists of four tracks
recorded at Sonny's 80th birthday concert in September 2010 and two
tracks (numbers 1 and 6) recorded in Japan the following month.
The first track is a typical Rollins choice: a show tune (from Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun) which many jazz musicians might avoid but which perfectly suits Sonny's wayward lines. His tenor sax swirls in unexpected directions, at times reminiscent of Ornette Coleman - a strange echo given what happens in a later track on this CD. Rollins swaps fours with drummer Kobie Watkins - slightly untidily, as the drum and sax breaks spill over into one another. Rollins later shares fours with guitarist Russell Malone.
Sonny introduces another guitarist - Jim Hall - as a guest for In a Sentimental Mood, which Russell plays with just bass and drums, ending with an eloquent unaccompanied coda.
Rollins presents two more guests - bassist Christian McBride and drummer Roy Haynes - who join him on Sonnymoon for Two. After playing a solo, Sonny announces another guest who eventually appears after Rollins has soloed for another four minutes. The newcomer is Ornette Coleman, famous for his pioneering approach to extemporization. This meeting of two giants for their first public performance together shows that their styles are not a hundred miles apart, especially as they take turns to solo. Perhaps this track, clocking in at 20 minutes, goes on rather too long and the usually steady bassist Christian McBride occasion ally seems to be speeding up, but it's an educative track.
Trumpeter Roy Hargrove guests for I Can't Get Started, most famous as performed by an earlier trumpeter: Bunny Berigan. Rollins' solo is more outspoken than Roy's mellow take on the tune. The pair then enjoy themselves on a high-powered version of Billy Strayhorn's Rain Check.
St. Thomas makes a short closer to an album that contains many cherishable moments. My only complaint is that the sleeve-note doesn't say precisely which musicians play on which tracks, leaving you to work it out for yourself.