Here's to the People

Sonny Rollins enthusiasts have long suffered the disproportion between his canned and live performances — for some reason, the recording studio seems to inhibit him. But the latest tour de force, Here’s to the People, by the greatest living tenor saxophonist almost qualifies as the Sonny Rollins Record We’ve Been Waiting For. It suffers from two imperfections, neither fatal. The drummer on five of eight selections, Steve Jordan, favors intrusive, flat, slaplike reports; the electric bass, though ably played by Bob Cranshaw, sounds slick, artificial, and overmiked against Rollins’ rash acoustic torrent. The album opens and closes with Jerome Kern melodies ”Long Ago and Far Way” and ”Why Was I Born?”; on the latter, Rollins wrestles for 11 choruses as though he were going toe to toe with Satan, girding himself with ominous hollers and ferocious double time. On the frothy standard ”Lucky Day,” his configurations seem so fierce that they’re ready to implode. Perfect, no. But amazing? Absolutely. A-

Here's to the People
  • Music