B.B. King Blues Club, September 21, 2002:
I am in Manhattan early to attend The Verizon Music Festival, in Battery Park. I catch the number 1 train up to 570 Washington St. to visit my old shift at work. I had a great visit with: Rich, Lisa, Audie, Gloria, Billy, Tony and Frankie. I really miss this shift! I take the number 1 train up to Times Square, which lets me out ½ block from the club. I go downstairs to wait at the bar. I have a coke and meet Jim Wilson who’s already waiting to get into tonight’s show. We chat at length and strike up a friendship. We go in at 6:00 P.M. together, and sit at the front-most center table. I am on the guest list, thanks again, to Ariel Publicity.
Jim Wilson is a photographer and a sketch artist. He has great photos to show me and his sketches are tremendous. Jim is an avid blues fan who knows much more about many blues artists that I am not very familiar with. Jonathan and Ben join us at our table. They have just come here on a bus from Baltimore, Maryland. It was a 3½-hour ride up and will be the same going home again. Ben is a junior in high school and plays the Alto saxophone. Jean-Patrick serves us tonight. The service and food are excellent as usual.
At 8:05 P.M. Sonny
Rollins takes the stage. His band consists of: Drums, Bass, Piano,
Percussion, Trombone and
The first number, “East Of The Sun,” is a traditional swing arrangement, loose and relaxed. There is a real nice walkin’ bass. The piano accompaniment is careful and colorful and the drummer is real solid on the trap set. Sonny Rollins starts out slow and easy with sudden melodic arpeggios and crescendos, carefully placed in great time spaces. Sonny executes nice phrasing and modulations along the chord changes, effortlessly and seamlessly.
Song two is, “Global Warming.” This song has a Latin feel. It starts with a delicate intro, controlled and careful. A tremendous trombone solo by Clifton Anderson starts slow and sweet, then is dynamically extended with arpeggios and crescendos. The drummer, Tom Cambell, plays a double time hi-hat with well-placed accents on the crown of the ride cymbal. The pianist, Stephen Scott, plays excellent accents in unison with the drummer. The pianist executes a very inventive solo with well-placed percussive dissonance. The tempo is a slow Rumba feel, with Sonny soloing all over the musical backdrop. Sonny takes an excellent tenor solo over this musical mood. The percussionist, Kimati Dinizulu, takes a tremendous solo. He starts with the slow tempo then quickens up as the solo develops.
The next song is slow and moody with the drummer using brushes while accenting with the metal handle side of the brush. The tenor lead is very sensual and emotional. Sonny shows a very nice touch and controlled sensitivity. The piano solo goes through very interesting chord changes. The pianist, Stephen Scott, possesses excellent touch and time, with well-placed melodic crescendos.
Song four starts with a tenor solo introduction. The song proceeds to a bop tempo, quick and lively. There is a very solid walkin’ bass. The band is really kickin’ with Sonny running all the scales in rapid arpeggio bursts. The drummer is solid on the time and there are well-placed stops for the drummer to solo on. The drummer, Tom Cambell, plays excellent solos with a very unusual attack and emphasis on different percussive tones.
The fifth musical piece starts with a clever tenor introduction. It is moody, sexy and soothing. The band is delicately quiet and reserved. The percussionist plays chimes and a shaker in a super soft percussive effort. Sonny plays a soft touch melody line here. Trombonist, Clifton Anderson, plays a muted trombone in an answer/response melodic form with Sonny’s tenor.
The next musical entry has a bright and upbeat intro, to a medium tempo jazz bop groove. Stephen Scott takes an excellent piano solo. He displays very creative chord structures over dissonant passages and keen melodic development. Steve is humming along dissonantly with his own piano solo. He uses very unusual note choice for the extended piano solo. Clifton Anderson takes an amazing trombone solo. He starts slow and deliberate, and then gets into some huge slides with high crescendo note arpeggios.
The bassist, Bobby Cranshaw, takes a tremendous solo. He is spider walking all over the bass. He is walking in quarter notes, then changes to a cut-time tempo, for a sharp contrast to the walkin’ bass patterned groove he is into.
On song seven, Sonny takes the head on his tenor. This tune is a romantic serenade, melodic and sincere. The tempo and mood is slow and deliberate. Sonny Rollins melodic development is superior and second to none. Sonny solos on the melody long and arduously. There is a great answer/response from Sonny’s tenor to Tom Cambell’s drumming. The last song has a boppy, bright, melodic, up-tempo Latin feel. It has a brassy poignant melody. Sonny plays burst flourishes and rapid-fire arpeggios all over the Latin melody.
The encore number is a bright jazz bop tempo. The trombone and tenor execute a smart counterpoint melodic attack. It showcases well executed, and very challenging melodic development. Sonny Rollins and Clifton Anderson really show their chops with close interactive and melodic playing on this last tune.
Sonny Rollins puts on a tremendous show here tonight. Each and everyone in the band shines throughout the evening and is featured at moments that make you fully aware they are excellent musicians.
Jim Wilson has been sketching Sonny Rollins throughout the concert. His pencil sketch looks fantastic. I hope to keep in touch with Jim and see much more of his creative work in the future.
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