Sonny Rollins, Road Shows Volume 1

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 09.11.12 in Reviews

Road Shows, Vol.1

Sonny Rollins
An astounding compendium of peak Rollins

This seems like an answer to a prayer from Sonny Rollins fans: The notoriously self-critical saxophonist himself culling through 27 years of live concerts, some painstakingly taped by a superfan named Carl Smith and others taken from soundboard recordings. What emerges is an astounding compendium of peak Rollins — and, perhaps more importantly, first-class support from his often mediocre sidemen. The real find is a scintillating, previously unheard Rollins original, “Blossom,” unearthed from a 1980 gig in Sweden. Or you could nominate his exquisite two-minute solo to close out “More Than You Know” from France in 2006. Or count, as one reviewer did (up to 37), the number of variations he makes on the theme of the opener, “Best Wishes.” The disc closes with “Some Enchanted Evening,” from a 2007 Carnegie Hall concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of his first gig there. Roy Haynes is on the drums, Christian McBride is the bassist and the title of the track tells the truth.