Sonny Rollins ‘Road Shows Vol. 1’ (Emarcy/Universal) 4/5

Anyone who has witnessed Sonny Rollins in a live context will testify to his continued charisma and prowess and this collection of live perofrmances spanning almost thirty years is an excellent resume of an artist still in top form in the twilight period of his career. The variety of formats ranges from pared down trio to sextet including guitar, percussion and trombone. Rollins cut some of the definitive statements on the tenor saxophnoe during the mid-late 1950s, several of which were trio outings. A highlight of this set is 2007 concert at the Carnegie Hall on the Rodgers and Hammerstein old chestnut ‘Some enchanted evening’, most ably accompanied by the great Roy Haynes on drums and Christian McBride on bass. An entire concert of this line up would be a treat. Calypsos have long been a favourite of the Rollins repertoire and and integral part of his heritage and the self-penned ‘Nice lady is not dissimilar to the seminal ‘St. Thomas’ from his classic ‘Saxophone Colossus’ album in 1956. Latin tinges surface on performances of the sextet in Sweden from 1980, notably on ‘Blossom’. The historical context to the live recordings is provided by excellent sleeve notes from renowned jazz writer Gary Giddens. An excellent place for Rollins neophytes to start discovering the immense legacy the tenorist has left on record and on this evidence he has still has more to give to the ever appreciative jazz public.

Tim Stenhouse