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New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico MUSIC Susan Associated Press Sonny Rollins follows wherever the music leads Legendary jazz saxophonist muses on life music and yes his muse ByMarkStryker Detroit Free Press I have heard tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins play often but the most memorable night came in Chicago in 1991 It was the quintessential Rollins experience Half of the concert was pro foundly disappointing and half was the greatest live music I have ever heard Rollins opened then with Jerome Kerns Long Ago and Far Away but he sounded distracted playing little mtire than worried repetitions that jogged in place He cut short the band after a sec ond tune and during the unscheduled intermission I wondered if this was one of those infamous nights when Rollins and his muse were on the outs Then he launched into a blues Tenor Madness and began trading fourbar phrases with drummer Al Footer Sud denly his muse had bedroom eyes The music poured out of him in a joyous rush of Joycean intuition He played curlicue bebop and honking gutbucket blues He brayed barked stuttered strutted roared He built mansions of inspiration from Fosters rhythmic blue print He crushed the songs melodic riff into atoms and reassembled them like an alchemist a hallmark of his the matic approach to improvisation When it was over I looked at my watch He and Foster had traded phrases for more than 15 minutes Sonny Rollins is widely regarded as our greatest living jazz musician Even at 75 dental problems taking a toll on the oncepinpoint accuracy of his articulation he can summon the powers of Zeus On a goodnight he wont make you see God so much as convince you he is one He has been a force in jazz since 1949 working or recording with Bud Powell Thelonious Monk Miles Davis Charlie Parker Dizzy Gillespie Clifford Brown and nearly every other post war giant Along with John Coltrane he is the most influential tenor saxophonist of the modem era and a huge chunk of his discography is as important to jazz as scripture is to theology Yet there is nothing pedantic about Rollins radi ance He is as inviting to newcomers as to the cognoscenti As critic Francis Davis once put it When conjuring up an image of the quintessential jazzman heroic inspired mystical obsessed as often as not it is Rollins we picture because no other jazz instrumentalist better 26 SUNDAY Oct 28 2005 TTie New Mexican magazine
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