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Falling in Love With Jazz

Sonny Rollins’ stature is as great as ever, but his recordings often have been disappointing. His new record, though, could have been called The Sonny Rollins Album You’ve Been Waiting For.

Falling in Love With Jazz, incorporating five lush ballads and two up-tempo originals, is as sweet as its touchingly mundane title. On two cuts, Rollins is reunited with the sublime pianist Tommy Flanagan, who appeared on his epochal 1956 session Saxophone Colossus. Flanagan’s two-chorus solo on ”For All We Know” combines elegance of touch, an assured melodic scheme, and a legato backbeat kick-it glows. Rollins capers with the melody, finally bringing it to a halt with a long note of easy elation.

Rollins shouldn’t be able to get away with schmaltz like ”Tennessee Waltz,” but, of course, he does. He likes an overbaked melody, the more obvious the better; he can transfigure sentimentality while indulging in it. The intoxicating ”Amandd,” which, infuriatingly, is on the CD only (there’s plenty of room for it on the LP and tape), wittily assimilates Rollins’ trademark calypso rhythms into a pop song format. He makes of the great Rodgers and Hart lament ”Little Girl Blue” a lavish serenade, without drums. Still, he ought to do an entire album with Flanagan. A+

Falling in Love With Jazz
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