Sonny Rollins, Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4 (Doxy)
This Rollins collection validates yet again the magisterial status conferred on him in the title of a 1956 album: Saxophone Colossus. In concert performances recorded over more than three decades and never before released, Rollins’s energy, melodic inventiveness, humor and rhythmic daring are breathtaking. The most recent piece, from 2012 when Rollins was 81, is no less gripping than the earliest, from 1979. The ’79 track, recorded in Finland, is an expanded version of “Disco Monk,” first heard on that year’s Don’t Ask album. It alternates swinging and ballad tempos and is dense with characteristic Rollins time-play and allusions to other pieces, all absorbed into the stream of his and his bands’ creativity. The supporting casts includes players who have been Rollins stalwarts over the years, among them bassist Bob Cranshaw, pianists Stephen Scott and Mark Soskin, guitarists Bobby Broom and Peter Bernstein, and drummers Al Foster and Victor Lewis.
The recordings are from Pori, Finland; London; Prague; Marseille, Paris and Toulouse, France; and Boston. The closing medley from Boston’s Berklee Performance Center in 2001 is by the classic Rollins group with trombonist Clifton Anderson, pianist Scott, bassist Cranshaw, drummer Perry Wilson and percussionist Kimai Dinizulu. It begins with “Sweet Leilani” and continues with Rollins in a lengthy and riotous unaccompanied solo. It ends with nearly 11 minutes of his calypso “Don’t Stop The Carnival,” in which he and the band reach levels of intensity—and fun—that leave the audience cheering, whistling, and reluctant to let them go. Let’s hope that the Rollins stash of concert recordings has enough material for at least one more Road Show album.