An unusually overcast Sunday evening on May 16th 2010 brought a shining legend to the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA. Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins shared a wealth of wisdom, innovative and unforgettable music to an enthusiastic audience. There are no words to articulate the astonishing air this sage brings to his disciples.
Mr. Rollins was accompanied by an exceptional ensemble consisting of the following musicians.
There was Russell Malone on Guitar, Bob Cranshaw on Bass, Kobie Watkins on Drums and Victor Y. See Yuen on Percussion.
Burton Lane's "How are things in Glocca Mora" was one of the tunes Sonny performed with such creativity and flawless form.
Mr. Rollins gives an intimate conversation with his horn to you when he plays. It is simply delectable. Mr. Malone on Guitar shared an engaging time with great chord progressions and solo ideas as well. Mr. Watkins provided a bit on snare and high hat interaction that was driving, detailed, and simply glorious.
Sonny continued to ignite the evening with a selection of pieces from various albums that were originals and seasoned memoirs innovatively turned into a Rollins recollection. Sonny's mode is a combination of dynamism and restraint that is infinite in a holistic fashion. We were spellbound by his aura, style, and approach to each tune.
As The Rollins ensemble guided us into each tune, the space did not feel like that of a concert hall but rather a personal living room or favorite refuge.
Sonny's "Tenor Madness" was done with that endearing deliberate affect with solos provided by My Yuen on Percussion that was exquisite and magical. Mr. Cranshaw on Bass who has been with Mr. Rollins for decades spoke sweet and tantalizing thoughts in a vernacular of chords and progressions.
Sonny gave a sizzling solo including quotes from the great Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce".
An accolade to the Bebop was ever present in Sonny's own notable way was ever present as he performed Johnny Green's hauntingly beautiful ballad, "Body and Soul".
The solo presented by Mr. Malone on Guitar on this was more than bliss wooing all Aficionados into a reeling rendezvous with his beautiful and unadulterated approach to chord change, space, and time.
There are no fitting words to truly articulate the magic that made that evening between the ensemble and audience.
Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's poignant ballad,”Why was I born?" was performed with an upbeat touch that yet had a progression filled with Blues drive. It was imaginative yet somewhat foreboding as the lyric shares of unavoidable heartbreak. In the midst of this is an enticing web in Sonny's presentation that no one could resist.
Sonny Rollins began his career at 16 playing Alto Saxophone but quickly switched to Tenor inspired by Coleman Hawkins, Tenor Saxophone musician that he admired. The renowned Pianist Thelonious Monk became young Sonny's musical mentor and advocate.
Mr. Rollins grew up in Harlem, New York during the era of Bebop with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Jackie McLean, Bud Powell, and other wonderful musicians.
Sonny once shard that "He felt a holy obligation to evoke some of the greats when he played"
There is no question that the spirit of the core of Jazz and its entire ingenious stimulus was present, embracing a thankful and fervent audience.
Sonny Rollins and his ensemble of supreme musicians made this a night to etch in the history of music making.