With his smooth tone, clear articulation, and willingness to stretch things out into unexpected places, Sonny Rollins has simply been one of the best jazz saxophonists of his generation, and if he wasn't as experimental and explorative as John Coltrane, say, he was every bit as influential, and by the mid-'50s, there wasn't a steadier player anywhere in jazz, a course that continues to hold true a decade and change into the 21st century. Rollins launched his own Doxy label in 2006, and beginning in 2008, he started issuing concert recordings from his vast personal archive as part of his Road Shows series on the Doxy imprint. The first volume, issued in 2008, collected live tracks spanning nearly 30 years, while the second volume centered on his 80th birthday concert at New York's Beacon Theatre. This third volume draws six tracks recorded at live sets around the globe in Saitama, Toulouse, Marseille, Marciac, and St. Louis between 2001 and 2012, including a previously unreleased Rollins composition, "Patanjali." Rollins has always said that the concert stage is his preferred mode of musical presentation, where, freed of studio time constraints, he can stretch out in any direction he chooses, for as long or as short a time as he chooses, and with the audience onboard, his sets are, in a sense, collaborations. Trombonist Clifton Anderson and bassist Bob Cranshaw are heard on each track here, while pianist Stephen Scott, guitarists Bobby Broom and Peter Bernstein, drummers Kobie Watkins, Perry Wilson, Steve Jordan, and Victor Lewis, and percussionists Kimati Dinizulu and Sammy Figueroa appear on selected tracks. Rollins is Rollins, of course, and his playing is a continued treasure, particularly given the casualty rate among the first wave of bop musicians. Rollins has actually had a jazz career that stretches over a half-century now, and that he is still active and recording makes this set all the more a testament to a saxophone colossus.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett