The Jazzcat

Sonny Rollins's Performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall

by on Mar.17, 2005, under News


Slide Show

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is packed once again awaiting

the entrance of the world famous historic jazz figure, Mr. Sonny Rollins. He is

greeted with elated roars and cheers as he and the rest of his band enter stage

right. There is no time wasted for this musical family affair and their off.


Sonny and his trombone playing nephew are surrounded in a

semi-circle of musical love. Holding down the melody on guitar positioned to

the far left of the horse shoe is Bobby Broom on guitar. Next is a cat that has

been a creative and a melodic part of many a jazz legend on electric bass, Mr.

Bob Cranshaw. On drums, Steve Jordan plays the beats and controls the

constant pace of the music. On percussion with a full assortment of instruments

that span the continent of Africa is Kimati

Dinizulu. And, on the bone out front and center stage with Uncle Sonny is

Clifton Anderson.


The stage is lit in the strips of a tiger as the band

performs. Sonny takes his solo center stage and you can’t help but realize from

the sound and stature of this powerfully iconoclastic figure that he and the

other cats of his time were responsible for forming, shaping and creating the

jazz music that we have loved for so many years. After his solo, the audience

screams like it was an encore performance. This is my second encounter with

Sonny Rollins. I saw him first a number of years ago here in Los Angeles at the Bovard Auditorium on the

campus of USC. The music tonight as well as in previous years starts off with a

sense of jazz but, will soon take a turn and open up allowing many more world

influences to come to light.


Sonny is very lyrical and melodic in his delivery. He plays

and trades with each of the cats allowing the colors and flavors of each of his

players to shine through. Everyone has a specific role in this band and the sea

is parted for the clarity of their expression. In his “Italian Folk Song” you

can imagine images of Italy

but, Clifton’s trombone at times plays behind

the beat and I hear some Louisiana

slightly mixed up in there. Kimati had a buffet of musical instruments laid out

on a table behind his kit which provided a smorgasbord of interesting sounds,

textures and colors. He made sure he put some of everything on his plate.


Sonny’s Caribbean heritage

started to dominate the sound and soon the music would open up to all the

sounds of the world. This was certainly feel good music with jovial rhythms and

chants all in the mix. Bodies and heads were swayin’ with ideals of white

sands, distant lands, sunshine and bronze Goddesses sportin’ flowers and

shakin’ grass. Sonny even comments when he take the microphone that the fact is

that he wants everyone to be happy and enjoy what is going on the inside of the

body and not all of the craziness of the world outside.


Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with vacation,

but musically, I prefer the dark side. As much respect as I have for Sonny and

the music, I would have liked to hear the fire and energy of the days of

yesteryear. But, even with the sun, sand and clear waters, you still get the

captivating sound on tenor that is non-other than the great Sonny Rollins.


Sonny and Clifton

give you a really nice feeling when they are out front on a romantic ballad.

The happiness in their instruments dance like an old school black and white

movie over the sounds of the rhythmic grooves. Bob Cranshaw and Bobby Broom

laid down some groovy chords as they walked and talked in conversation together

on a tune Sonny wrote for his good friend Horace Silver called “HS”. Straight

Ahead, no, but definitely music with a much broader spectrum that spreads the

feeling of warmth, love and happiness and there is certainly a need in music

and in this world for that!



LeRoy Downs




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