Three years after Volume 1, another lightning bolt: Road Shows Volume 2, which eclipses its predecessor in sound quality and the sheer thrills of Sonny Rollins’s tenor madness. The format is different, with four of the six tracks stemming from a single concert, Sonny’s 80th birthday celebration at New York’s Beacon Theatre on Sept. 10, 2010. Roy Haynes and Christian McBride are once again a nonpareil rhythm section and special guests include trumpeter Roy Hargrove and, on a 22-minute “Sonnymoon for Two,” the world’s second-greatest living saxophonist, Ornette Coleman, the first time the two had ever played together. Two other numbers, performed in Japan a month later, are added to either end of the program and don’t detract from the whole. In the liner notes to Road Shows Volume 1, Gary Giddins wrote that Rollins’s concert performances “have become musical séances that transcend jazz.” If we are lucky enough for Road Shows Volumes 3, 4 and 5, and perhaps an 85th birthday concert, this alchemist of sound will continue to encapsulate the heavens in his heart, and send it out through his horn.
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