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  1. Sep 14, 2005 04:43am by NRG - livin the art that is life ! www.64111clinic.com fam www.nrginmotion.com massage www.myspace.com/nrginmotion world community Location: havenhouse KCK/ 64111 Clinic 4 Life
    The Jazz Giant note from nrg: read and learn there is great info here between the line if you can hear it. enjoy Issue of 2005-05-09 Posted 2005-05-02 [i:c626f46282]This week in the magazine, Stanley Crouch writes about the jazz tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who, at seventy-four, is in the sixth decade of his remarkable career. Here, Crouch discusses Rollins, jazz, and improvisation with Ben Greenman.[/i:c626f46282] [b:c626f46282]BEN GREENMAN:[/b:c626f46282] Where does Sonny Rollins rank in the jazz pantheon? [b:c626f46282]STANLEY CROUCH:[/b:c626f46282] No. 1, along with Roy Haynes and Hank Jones. You open your article by saying that a Sonny Rollins concert is a drastically hit-or-miss proposition. Is it hard for him to approach each show as an entirely new experience? [b:c626f46282]Improvisation is about a new experience, a new way of hearing something, a different perspective, a reimagining. That’s how the music works. And Sonny Rollins is almost always remarkable, which makes him a phenomenon. His is the sort of talent that we have almost no ability to address in this time, because musical performance and musical skill have dropped to such a low level. Rollins is a vital artist of this moment, but he is also a summation of all of the victories of American performance in the twentieth century. Like Armstrong, he is jazz, and jazz added a new level of performance sophistication to Western music. That addition is about all of the ways of creating order within, almost always, a harmonic structure, which is what separates it from so-called “world music,” which is never about harmony of any substance or swing. That is a Western invention and addition to music. Swing is an addition to the rhythm of the world.[/b:c626f46282] In his less focussed performances, Rollins sometimes switches into calypso mode. Caribbean rhythms have always been important to his music; are there other jazz players who put lots of island music into their playing? [b:c626f46282]No, but there has always been a tendency to make use of what Jelly Roll Morton called “the Spanish tinge”—music from the islands, or South America, or the Iberian Peninsula, transformed to fit the Western Hemisphere.[/b:c626f46282] At one point, Freddie Hubbard says that one of the main differences between John Coltrane and Rollins was that Coltrane took a very analytical approach to harmony, whereas Rollins was more spontaneous. Rollins and Coltrane recorded together only once, on “Tenor Madness,” in the mid-fifties. Did their approaches mesh in an interesting and exciting way? [b:c626f46282]It was O.K. I was never that impressed by “Tenor Madness.” It’s too bad they didn’t get together and do an entire album, maybe with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones. That would have put something on all of us.[/b:c626f46282] How hard has it been for Rollins to outlive most of the other jazz luminaries of the fifties and sixties? [b:c626f46282]Well, Sonny Rollins is one of the brightest lights in the history of the music; his talent is up there next to that of Armstrong, Young, and Parker. He is a true natural and a great synthesizer. In improvising, he does the same thing that Ellington did when composing: he reinvents the entire tradition, because he understands all of the differences and all of the connections. [/b:c626f46282] Are there younger players who have the same kind of power as Rollins, or has jazz changed in ways that make this unlikely? [b:c626f46282]I think that Branford Marsalis has the talent to expand upon Rollins and become a master of intimidating quality. [/b:c626f46282] Much of your article discusses the mercurial nature of Rollins’s live performances, and the problem of capturing him on a studio recording. Is this problem less acute for other jazz artists? [b:c626f46282]Perhaps, yes. Sonny seems less confident about recordings than other musicians are. He more or less slid into the problem. But he seems more capable of living with a memory of a great performance than he does with the artifact of a recording.[/b:c626f46282] Has Rollins ever been a big commercial success? Has most of his earnings come from live performance? [b:c626f46282]I think his 1966 recording of “Alfie” was a jazz hit, which means it sold a lot for a jazz record but might not have done much to shake up his record label. When Rollins was a master at full strength, as a man in his middle thirties, there was not much big money to be made in jazz, unless one was lucky, the way John Coltrane was with “My Favorite Things,” or had the power of a big label behind him, the way Miles Davis did at Columbia. He now says that there was not a lot of work to be had in the sixties; I saw him often and he seemed to be doing well enough, although we didn’t talk about his finances.[/b:c626f46282] Most jazz novices own “Saxophone Colossus” and “Way Out West.” What other records are essential for understanding and enjoying Rollins? [b:c626f46282]“The Bridge,” “Our Man in Jazz,” “The Standard Sonny Rollins,” “Alfie,” and “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” which contains the masterpiece “Silver City” and his mostly solo version of “Autumn Nocturne,” which many writers like.[/b:c626f46282] Rollins has retreated from studio recording and live performance a few times in his career. How has this affected his work? [b:c626f46282]He always returned to the scene a better player. I think Sonny Rollins is a contemplative man, and he sometimes needed to get out of the rat race of touring, the smoke-filled rooms, the temptations of drug abuse, and all of the elements that made working in those little clubs as abominable as the intimate setting could be beautiful on a good night. As a health-conscious man, Sonny Rollins also was able to recharge, work out, do his yoga, and come back in championship form. [/b:c626f46282] If, as you say, an artist like Rollins “has realized his talent almost exclusively on the bandstand,” does this mean that most of his performances will be lost to history? [b:c626f46282]Not at all. The collector Carl Smith has more than three hundred bootleg performances, stretching back to Rollins playing an alto in a music store in 1949. Someday they will all be out. Hopefully, Sonny himself will benefit as much as possible.[/b:c626f46282] You mention that Milestone Records is releasing one of the recordings that Smith has collected. With the way the record industry is changing—decreased sales for all genres, and an increase in online downloadable music—will there come a day when there’s a huge online archive of Rollins’s recordings available for posterity? [b:c626f46282]Why not? We know what will happen. If it all appears online, the writers will go through them and, eventually, there will be the hundred best, followed by the fifty best, followed by the twenty-five best, followed by the ten best. You know how the public is. With so many choices, it wants someone to tell it which are the best, so that time and money can be saved. At some point, the relationship of quality to money becomes the issue. Perhaps, in some utopian time, the availability of quality will be the central issue. But, then, no one can imagine that. It sounds too much like heaven. [/b:c626f46282]