Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sonny Rollins at the Bass Concert Hall

When I noticed this show, I had to get a ticket. Sonny Rollins is a living Jazz legend. He was there when BeBop was born, and played with Miles, Monk, Max, and Trane (just to name a few). Now at 78 years of age, he is the last man standing... and still going strong.

The show tonight started promptly at 7PM, and as I entered, I was surprised to see a much denser crowd than the Five Peace Band. My seats were no where near as good as for that show either. I was almost in the last row, and my attempts to capture a picture at that distance were futile.

The band for tonight's show totalled six members:

  1. Sonny Rollins - Tenor Sax
  2. Clifton Anderson - Trombone
  3. Bobby Broom - Guitar
  4. Bob Cranshaw - Electric Bass
  5. Victor Y. See Yuen - Congas and African Percussion
  6. Kobie Watkins - Drums

The first number was an ostinato groove, with Sonny soloing all over the place. For the first 5 or 6 choruses, however, his sound was very low. This was remedied by a microphone replacement mid-song, during the Trombone solo. Sonny was greeted with thunderous applause, when the new microphone made his playing more audible.

I estimate the show lasted approximately 1 hr and 45 minutes, with a single encore. About 8 tunes in all, and two of which were ballads. Unlike Dizzy, Sonny still has the stamina to belt it out. I was particularly impressed with several long sustains, and his ability to draw upon every book of the Jazz Tenor canon.

From the band, the standouts for me were the 2 percussionists, and the Trombone player. I only wish that they had let the Trombonist solo more. I also enjoyed the several occasions, where he and Sonny played in unison.

At the end of the evening, Sonny went to the Mic and mentioned that it was the first time he had played in Austin, since playing Armadillo WHQ. Last but not least, he sang during part of the encore, a straight ahead Blues number.

Do I really need to convince you to try and see him? (I hope not).
Sonny Rollins at Bass

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