Sonny Rollins: Sonnymoon for Two


Sonnymoon for Two


Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)


A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note 99795)

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Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Wilbur Ware (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Composed by Sonny Rollins


Recorded: live at the Village Vanguard, New York, November 3, 1957


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

This was the first live recording ever at the fabled Village Vanguard, and although about 100 have been made there since, none tops what Sonny Rollins achieved on November 3, 1957. In a pared-down trio format, Rollins performs with a profound combination of spontaneity, discipline and wit. Not only that, but Rudy Van Gelder's original onsite engineering, not to mention his superb remastering for the 1999 RVG edition, captures the ambiance and immediacy of a live jazz club performance and specifically the aura of the Village Vanguard, whether or not you've ever been there as well as or better than any comparable recording.

Rollins's successful Way Out West recording date earlier that year, with just Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, perhaps inspired him to try the pianoless trio concept at the Vanguard. On "Sonnymoon for Two," his riffing blues piece, Rollins's extended 5-minute solo is essentially a series of clever thematic variations, interspersed with fleet boppish runs that contrast nicely with his various inventive blues licks. All this is played with an almost sardonically dry tenor tone that adds a distinctly modern sound to this unassuming blues. The density and complexity of Rollins's phrasing increases gradually, but he repeatedly references the main theme. When he hits upon an entirely new riff near the end, he develops it too in concise yet vivid fashion before entering a series of crisp exchanges with first Ware and then Jones, the drummer displaying facets of the style that would later coalesce during his years with John Coltrane.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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