Sonny Rollins

Road Shows, Vol. 1

For the past 30 years or so tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins has been recording his live shows. This CD, the second to be issued on his own label, collects seven global performances ranging from “Best Wishes,” the 1986 opening track, to the disc-ending 2007 Carnegie Hall trio version of “Some Enchanted Evening.” The 78-year-old Rollins, affectionately dubbed “the Saxophone Colossus” after his 1956 LP of the same name, is a perfectionist who has no hesitation in panning some of his earlier records. Here, with the help of Clifton Anderson, his long-time trombonist, they chose from a treasure trove of concert tapes. The music ranges from the rip-roaring (“Best Wishes” and “Tenor Madness,” which are both Rollins at speed!) to the much calmer Carnegie Hall tune. In between is “Nice Lady,” a 2007 Victoria, B.C., trademark calypso (liner-note writer Gary Giddins points out that Rollins “thinks music ought to make you want to dance”), and a couple of standards (one of them 1980’s sublime “Easy Living”). As Giddins observes, Rollins’ own “Blossom” (also from 1980) is “one of the most intricate Rollins performances you will hear anywhere.” One eagerly awaits Vol. 2.