Road Shows

The Road Shows so far have thrown up at least one significant contribution to jazz history with the inclusion of ‘Sonnymoon for Two’ on 2011’s Volume 2, one of those extraordinary extended moments in jazz once heard never forgotten. Now signed to Sony’s OKeh through a licensing deal with his label Doxy, and well into his eighties but not touring at the moment, this volume fills a certain gap for Rollins fans, covering 11 years (2001-12) rather than the much more extensive period covered in the first volume, issued back in 2008. The road shows in question here were recorded in Japan, back in the States in St Louis (actually the pick more of which later), but mainly in different French locations with two tracks from the night of 25 July 2012 recorded in Marseille, the rest from different years.
Of the personnel Kimati Dinizulu and Sammy Figueroa alternate on percussion, while Perry Wilson, Victor Lewis, Kobie Watkins, and Steve Jordan take turns on drums. There’s piano only on one track (that’s Stephen Scott on the oldest track here, 2001’s ‘Biji’ the opener), the continuity in the band provided throughout by Rollins road warriors Bob Cranshaw the bassist on all the tracks and Clifton Anderson trombone on all the tracks, while guitarist Bobby Broom alternates with Peter Bernstein on guitar.
The first thing you hear is the Japanese audience’s applause gradually increasing before the band come in to launch into the cheerful sound of Rollins’ mid-tempo swinger ‘Biji’ a tune that Cranshaw joined Rollins for on the Sonny Rollins + 3 album released in 1995. Scott takes a spirited solo while Cranshaw walks the tune home.
The ballad rendition of ‘Someday I’ll Find You’ next is one of the main achievements of the album that shrinks the years between this Toulouse performance in 2006 and 1958’s Freedom Suite when Rollins more or less made the Noël Coward tune his own on Freedom Suite. ‘Patanjali’, next, adds some beef to the sound Watkins’ slick and hyper fast drumming driving Rollins and Anderson on.
The other notable feature of Road Shows Volume 3 is the playful a cappella ‘Solo Sonny’ (quoting ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, ‘Tennessee Waltz’, and ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ among other tunes along the way). The American crowd goes nuts for this and you can understand why, a small glimpse of why Rollins is so revered and loved. ‘Why Was I Born’ the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II song that Rollins chose to open 1991’s Here’s To The People and included more recently on the 9/11 album Without a Song is the penultimate track of an often joyous album brought to a close by Rollins’ signature tune ‘Don’t Stop the Carnival’, inevitably accompanied by much cheering and clapping. SG
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