Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 4/22 & Tues 4/26


Okay, let’s say 1965. And let’s round off and call that 50 years ago. In 1965 we knew a lot about what Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane represented and where they were going; and yes there were surprises, not least by a long shot John Coltrane’s sudden, shocking departure two years later—for me, an unfixable hole had been kicked in the world; but in ’65 he was taking his classic quartet, after a series of unbreakable limits broken, to its actual limit, while Sonny Rollins was flickering in and out of the avant-garde, sometimes with utter mastery of old and new materials, sometimes comporting himself so strangely that his discomfort seemed interplanetary, for a while. To cut to the bridge: no tenor saxophonist has been as original or influential since. 50 years! In earlier decades jazz did not go like that. There could be no one after Charlie Parker, and then there were a number of people after Charlie Parker, our two heroes among them; but no one (to simplify) of their size and influence since. Is that necessarily a terrible thing? Beethoven (to simplify) loomed irremovably over the entire Western classical 19th century, but that didn’t prevent a number of composers of genius from emerging and making their unforgettable marks, and the music they represented was anything but dead. This week on Updoc—Friday at 8 PM and noon next Tuesday, Birdland Vanguard Half Note Five Spot time—we continue our celebration of Sonny Rollins’ Road Shows Vol. 4 with four more tracks from that new CD, bracketed by a number of older Rollins classics, including his one-time recorded pairing with John Coltrane, 1956’s elided confrontation on Tenor Madness; each man In a Sentimental Mood four-plus decades apart; and two recordings from 1961 and ’62 in which each man goes for broke at length in his own way. A couple of hours of that and then let’s see if anything has changed our minds about where we are now and what it all means, man.

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