Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Vinyls 2: East Broadway Run Down (Sonny Rollins)

The musician I listen to most these days is probably Sonny Rollins. His big tone, endless stream of ideas and immaculate feel of time and rhythm continues to amaze and inspire people all around the world. This 1966 album consists of a quartet a la Ornette Coleman (trumpet, sax, drums and bass) with Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. I must say the latter two, being part of Coltrane's rhythm section for 5 years at the time, sound really tight. Although Hubbard's playing on the long title track (20:27) is fabulous, he is not included on the other two.
The wikipedia article quotes this link and says that the title track is an improvisation on the Lionel Hampton's 'Hey Baba Rebop' riff. I personally associate the song Blessing In Disguise (first track of side B) with that riff. This song also happens to be my favorite on the album with Sonny's playing being much better and focused than from the Run Down. The Hammerstein/Rodgers tune We Kiss In A Shadow, the only ballad, concludes the album. I am not a fan of ballads being played by saxophone trios and this tune makes no exception. Plus, I don't really get the idea of mixing the free jazz sound (the noise elements vs. the lick oriented bebop phrasing that outlines the harmony) with standards like this one. Still, the interaction between Jones and Garrison makes the song going.
A fact also worthy of noting is that it is Rollins' last one for the Impulse label and his last before he took his second sabbatical (yes, he was doing this stuff before it became hip and when it was actually risky to do so!)