Archive for Sonny Rollins

How are things in Glocca Morra? – Sonny Rollins

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on February 12, 2020 by telescoper

À propos de rien, but to chill for a few minutes while I have a cup of tea after this afternoon’s Engineering Mathematics lecture, I thought I’d post a piece of music. As regular readers of this blog (both of them) will know, I listen to quite a lot of jazz. In the course of doing that it has often struck me that there can hardly be a tune that’s ever been written – however unpromising – that some jazz musician somewhere hasn’t taken a fancy to and done their own version. Louis Armstrong turned any amount of base metal into gold during his long career, but here’s an example from a more modern legend, Sonny Rollins, who is still going strong at the age of 89.

The full personnel listing is Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Donald Byrd (trumpet); Wynton Kelly (piano); Gene Ramey (bass); and Max Roach (drums). The track was recorded in 1956. The band is playing a tune called How are thing in Glocca Morra? and it was written for the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow (which I hate). This version, though is absolutely gorgeous.  It clearly doesn’t take much to inspire a genius…

Hold ’em Joe – Sonny Rollins

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on January 6, 2018 by telescoper

So I’m in Dublin airport waiting to board a (delayed) flight. Since it’s cold and dark outside I thought I’d take the opportunity to use the free airport Wi-fi to share something that put a bit of a spring in my step when I heard it on the radio a couple of days ago. It’s a truly phenomenal performance on tenor saxophone by the great Sonny Rollins over an infectious calypso rhythm generated by Mickey Roker on drums. Enjoy!

 

 

The Sonny Rollins Williamsburg Bridge

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on December 12, 2017 by telescoper

Between 1959 and 1961 the great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins took a break from making recordings to practice intensively, developing his technique and expanding his musical vocabulary. Living in New York City, but lacking anywhere private to play, he went every day to Williamsburg Bridge to practice. The first record he made after this `sabbatical’ was called The Bridge, released in 1962, and now regarded as a classic:

There is now a move afoot to have the Williamsburg Bridge renamed as the Sonny Rollins Williamsburg Bridge. There is a petition here.  Please consider signing it. I have!

Here’s a little video about The Sonny Rollins Bridge project:

And if you’re on Twitter can follow their account here:

 

Sonny Rollins’ letter to Coleman Hawkins

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on March 4, 2015 by telescoper

I couldn’t resist reblogging this wonderful letter from one great saxophonist, Sonny Rollins, to another, Coleman Hawkins.

The letter was written in 1962. You can find here on Youtube a recording of the two of them playing the great Jerome Kern tune All The Things You Are at the Newport Jazz Festival just a few months later in summer 1963. The title seems to match the sentiments of the letter rather nicely!

Simon Purcell Online

Do read this, a touching letter from Sonny Rollins to Coleman Hawkins in 1962 (from the website www.jazzclef.com). The greatest players possess not only self-discipline and powers of concentration, but generally, great humility.

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How are things in Glocca Morra?

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on December 10, 2010 by telescoper

As regular readers of this blog (both of them) will know, I listen to quite a lot of jazz. In the course of doing that it has often struck me that there can hardly be a tune that’s ever been written – however unpromising – that some jazz musician somewhere hasn’t taken a fancy to and done their own version. Louis Armstrong turned any amount of base metal into gold during his long career, but here’s an example from a more modern legend, Sonny Rollins, who is still going strong at the age of 80. It’s a tune called How are thing in Glocca Morra? and it was written for the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow (which I hate). This version, though, recorded in the mid 50s by a band led by Sonny Rollins on tenor sax, is absolutely gorgeous. It doesn’t take much to inspire a genius…


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St Thomas

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on January 25, 2010 by telescoper

Walking past a Jazz club during my recent trip to Copenhagen – sadly, I didn’t have time to go in – I remembered the many times I’d heard the great Danish bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (known universally to Jazz fans as NHØP) playing there in the past. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 2005, at the age of 58, bringing to a close a career that had started when he was only 17. He was an incredible virtuoso, playing his unwieldy instrument in an astonishingly nimble fashion. As a result he was number one choice as accompanist whenever leading jazz artists toured his native Denmark where he remained most of his life, despite frequent invitations to join big name bands abroad. Although he appeared quite frequently on TV in the United Kingdom with Oscar Peterson in the 1970s, he never really became as widely known as he should have been given what a great musician he was.

I looked around on youtube to find an appropriate example of his playing, and found this superlative performance which I’d never seen before and which also offers a fine helping  of the great Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone.  He will be 80 later this year and is still playing with the immense drive and imagination that he has shown since he began his career at the age of 11. He also wrote the tune, St Thomas, which has a strong caribbean feel to it, and which is based on a song from the Virgin Islands that his mother sang to him when he was a child. I’ve seen him play a number of times live, including at Ronnie Scott’s club in London and at the Royal Festival Hall, and wherever it was he always set the place on fire.

I hope the lilting calypso beat,  infectiously happy tune and, most of all, superb playing by every member of the band here will give you as warm a feeling as it did me when I first heard it. The other members of the quartet alongside Sonny Rollins are Kenny Drew on piano and Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums, but listen out for NHØP’s fantastic bass solo, starting around 4:41. Brilliant.