Sonny Rollins: More Than You Know (Live)
More Than You Know
Sonny Rollins (tenor sax)
Road Shows, Volume 1 (Emarcy 12165)
Kimati Dinizulu (percussion).
Composed by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu and Billy Rose.
Recorded: La Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, May 15, 2006
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Tenorist Sonny Rollins is the closest thing the jazz world has to a force of nature. And like tornadoes and earthquakes, this artist is both powerful and unpredictable. His finest moments usually come in the heat of a performance, rather than in the sterility of a recording studio, and the privileged audience, on these occasions, can sense the saxophonist feeding off their rapt attention as he delivers a solo that is both the culmination of a lifetime of horn-playing, and a Zen-like celebration of the present moment.
Rollins's Road Shows, Vol. 1 CD captures this rapturous side of the tenorist at work. It surveys more than a quarter century of performances and culls out seven tracks, including this titanic version of "More Than You Know," recorded in Toulouse in 2006. Rollins is a master of this type of "power ballad," where instead of introspective vulnerability we get grand statements from the mountaintop. One could easily trample the sentiments in a love song with such powerful outbursts, but instead Rollins manages to amplify the emotional qualities of the song, expanding their scope without losing any of their rawness. He seems paradoxically to be both in total command of the material, but also letting go and allowing the music to take him to its own chosen destination. His solo is a fascinating combination of motivic development, reworkings of the melody, and rhapsodic flurries.
In the midst of this inspired saxophony, you might neglect the contribution of guitarist Bobby Broom, which would be a shame. He counters Rollins's grandiloquence with a sharply etched solo, mostly in the higher register, in which each note glistens, almost like those shimmering phrases you hear from African harp masters. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the performance, and is all the more effective for its unexpected delicacy.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia