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Sonny Rollins

Surprisingly still active in the jazz scene despite his 78 years of age, legendary saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins is finding a way to make an impact through his recordings some 50-plus years after he got started. On his newest album (which doesn't feature a bevy of new recordings but rather previously unheard material), we get a sampling of his live work starting with a hair-raising 1986 performance of "Best Wishes" in Tokyo, in which his signature tenor soars over his hard-bopping quartet. The disc also features "Tenor Madness," one of Rollins' best-known compositions. Originally recorded in 1956 with Coltrane by his side (the only known track to feature both saxophonists), this live version stands up to the original, with trombonist Clifton Anderson sharing the spotlight and Rollins offering mind-tickling improvisational solos. Fans of the pianoless trio format that Rollins pioneered in the late '50s should dig "Some Enchanted Evening," which was recorded just last year at Carnegie Hall. The track features Christian McBride on bass and Roy Haynes on drums (two legendary figures in their own right), who take the tune to incredible heights using the empty spaces between them to create a magical, wonderful groove. Regardless of whether you're a die-hard Rollins fan or just a curious, casual listener, Road Shows Vol. 1 offers plenty of evidence of why Sonny is one of the best saxophonists in the history of jazz.

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Ernest Barteldes

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