Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

Sonny Rollins

This is a special record on a couple of levels: It was recorded in Boston just four days after the 9/11 tragedy and it’s basically the work of Carl Smith, a serious Rollins fan who’s taped more than 300 of the saxophonist’s performances (with Rollins’ approval) and feels that the tenorman’s best efforts come when he’s on stage. Based on the evidence here, it’s difficult to argue the point. Rollins, who lives just six blocks from the World Trade Center and was stuck there until evacuated by rescue personnel a day later, had thought about canceling the concert but was persuaded otherwise by his wife. With his regular group (Clifton Anderson, trombone; Stephen Scott, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Perry Wilson, drums; Kimati Dinizulu, percussion) Rollins, et al., interpret the themes of four standards and his own calypso, “Global Warming.” In a collection of stand-out moments it’s the 16-minute “Why Was I Born” that gets my vote for top place; Rollins is simply superb and Scott’s solo equally so.