Sonny Rollins

Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

By now, a name like “The 9/11 Concert” induces understandable reluctance. Do we really want to go there? The anniversary snuck up on us this year, while our astonished minds were on the Gulf Coast, our hearts again heavy with national news we weren’t sure we could bear. But jazz, the progeny of New Orleans, knows what resolute beauties might bloom from fierce affliction, and tenor champion Sonny Rollins, here in a hard-swinging sextet, doesn’t have it in him to patronize an audience. Even casual listeners to this uncommon performance will notice that it doesn’t sound particularly shocked, or mournful, or like a kind of rallying denial. It is, however, aggressive and transporting: out from under the weighty grief of epic catastrophe and into a high plane of unabashed, unexpected buoyancy.