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Sonny Rollins - Newport Jazz Festival 1973 - CD

Sonny Rollins - Newport Jazz Festival 1973 - CD

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Sonny Rollins is a true colossus. Championed by Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis as a young player, he quickly became one of jazz's leading voices on tenor saxophone. His tone, swing and almost superhuman creativity persisted from the mid 1950s for over 60 years. At the time of this concert, aged 43 and playing with a band of old friends and new talents, Sonny was at the height of his powers.
This performance from the Newport Jazz Festival was captured by National Public Radio on June 30th 1973 and features the band responsible for Rollins' Horn Culture LP (1973). Fresh from a two year break in Jamaica and India where he studied yoga and eastern philosophy Sonny put together a band of old friends and new talents.
Pianist Walter Davis Jr had known Rollins since his earliest days as a professional musician. A disciple of both Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, Davis worked with Max Roach and other leading lights of be-bop in the 1950s before landing the piano seat with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Bassist Bob Cranshaw first played with Rollins at the 1959 Playboy Jazz Festival and provided a solid core on his 1962 piano-less classic LP The Bridge. David Lee, a drummer from New Orleans was first spotted by Dizzy Gillespie who invited him to join his band in 1969. In 1971 he spent a year with vibist Roy Ayers before answering the call from Rollins. The youngest member of the quintet, guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo was given his break while still at university by Japan's foremost saxophonist Sado Watanabe.
The music features Love Letters, a 1940s popular song by Victor Young and Edward Hayman; Sais, the centrepiece of the set and a rare example of Rollins on Soprano saxophone; the ballad There Is No Greater Love, first featured on Rollins' 1957 LP Way Out West and Alfie's Theme, originally written by Sonny for the famed Michael Caine film Alfie.
Still with us in 2019 Sonny the saxophone colossus, retired from performing in 2012 bringing to a close a career that produced seven decades of tenor madness. We should all try to listen to as much of it as we can find.

1. Intro/Love Letters/Band Intros / 2. Sais/Jam / 3. Alfie's Theme / 4. There Is No Greater Love/Jam/Outro