Sonny Rollins

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Soneymoon Review

by Michael G. Nastos

An in-concert recording of curious nature and origin, this recording of Sonny Rollins screams unauthorized bootleg, and whether Rollins actually approved of its release is a question only he can answer. For starters, the title is Soneymoon, which makes no sense; it's either a typo or a title simply spelled incorrectly. (The famous composition of Rollins has always been known as "Sonnymoon for Two.") There are no recording dates or locales (though the performances are probably from Europe), pianist Kenny Drew is misidentified as a percussionist (credited "percussions"), Jymie Merritt is "Jimmy Meritt," Billy Higgins is "Bill Higgins," and Don Cherry plays trumpets. As far as the sound quality goes, it is inferior. A snippet of "Without a Song" includes a false start; it is sloppy, with inconsistent production values and a barely audible Cherry. It is totally worthless. Of the remaining three tracks featuring Cherry, he's way back in the mix, as is bassist Henry Grimes. Higgins sounds unlike the typically sleek and facile drummer listeners know him to be. The group, even the tenor sax of Rollins, sounds ragged, disorganized, and unfocused, particularly during "On Green Dolphin Street" and only slightly less on a relatively unrecognizable "Solitude." There are two quintet tracks with Drew, vibist Milt Jackson, drummer Art Blakey, and bassist Percy Heath that fare better. Heath's introductory solo on "Sonny's Blues" is outstanding, and the band does "Oleo" decently, with Jackson joining in well after the bridge. The finale, "Lover," at a breakneck tempo for over 15 minutes, is an exhaustive discourse for Rollins, with drummer Max Roach and Merritt assimilating the bulletproof trio of Elvin Jones and Wilbur Ware that Rollins previously led. This CD has many issues that listeners need to be wary of, and falls into the category of "less than worthy" in the great discography of Newk.

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