Saturday, September 11, 2010


So the Sonny Rollins 80th birthday show at the Beacon Theatre in NYC last night? Pretty fucking amazing. His regular band (guitarist Russell Malone, bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Kobie Watkins and percussionist Sammy Figueroa) was strong enough, but they only played two numbers ("Patan Jali," "Global Warming") before the guests started showing up. First was trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who did "I Can't Get Started" on flugelhorn and a really hard-swinging "Rain Check" (including a long passage of trading fours with Rollins, while Watkins set off one bomb after another) on trumpet. Then came Jim Hall, who looked about a thousand and five and was dressed like he'd come straight from the early bird special at Denny's, but who kicked a shocking amount of ass on "In A Sentimental Mood" and "If Ever I Would Leave You." Then the original band was replaced by a rhythm section of Christian McBride and (an unannounced) Roy Haynes. They played "In My Solitude," and Haynes took a solo that was like controlled demolition. Then they launched into a hard-swinging version of "Sonnymoon For Two," at which point Rollins announced one more guest was backstage. They vamped for a minute or two, building suspense, and then out walked...

Ornette Coleman.

The crowd went apeshit, and these two octogenarians, who'd never shared a stage before, absolutely tore it up, Rollins going further out than he has since Our Man In Jazz and Ornette squealing and bending the blues any way he felt like. It was awesome.

That was the end of the main set; the whole band (minus Ornette) came back for a closing version of "St. Thomas," but post-OC, it was a slight step downhill. Still, this was a once-in-a-lifetime show, and I'm kind of amazed I was there.


jazzylover59 said...

Thank you, Phil!

Kandie Webster in Washington State ~ jazzylover59

Ron W said...

Wish I could have been there. My friend Ron Holloway says it was a blast and Christian mcBride seemed to have sensed the moment.

Anonymous said...


Great write up. I was there too and it was a night that will stay with me forever. You know with Ornette he's gonna do it his way and Sonny gladly stepped into Ornette's universe like he was born there. What heights they reached together. Wish an able camera grew had been there to make a concert DVD.

Brian In NYC