Sonny Rollins

Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

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When the disasters on 9/11 occurred, the great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins was in his New York apartment, only blocks away from the World Trade Center. He survived a night without electricity and was of course deeply affected by the catastrophe. At the urging of his wife and manager, Lucille, he fulfilled an engagement to play in Boston four days later, and the concert recording was released four years later. Rollins is quite emotional in his playing and can be heard throughout in peak creative form. While many of his detractors feel that his studio recordings since the 1970s have not had the excitement of his live concerts, they should find much to enjoy on this passionate if not flawless set; the trombonist stumbles a bit on "Global Warming." Rollins, performing with his usual sextet (which includes his nephew Clifton Anderson on trombone, pianist Stephen Scott, and his longtime electric bassist Bob Cranshaw) stretches out on four standards and his calypso "Global Warming," really digging into the melodies. His playing sounds a bit like a purging of bad memories, while at the same time seeming hopeful about the future. The result is arguably Sonny Rollins' best recording of the past decade, and is a highly recommended set.

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