The epic birthday extravaganza has come and gone, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see commentary from those who were lucky enough to be there. Some detailed early responses came, blogospherically, via Jason Crane & Howard Mandel, among others. I avoided reading those until after I had filed my own review, but was glad to catch up later. Likewise with a blog post by Marc Meyers, who also did an excellent job coaxing reminiscences from Rollins in a WSJ preview. [Update: See also Fred Kaplan at Stereophile.]
Space constraints in the official review meant that I had to elide a few things, and shortchange others. I would have liked to devote more than a passing nod to Roy Hargrove, for instance: his sober caress of “I Can’t Get Started,” his feinting aggression on “Rain Check.” On some other night, this would have been a bigger part of the story.
There was also little room, I found, for much assessment of Rollins’ new band. Russell Malone was an effortless fit on guitar, a more fluid harmonic actor than his precursor, Bobby Broom. I likewise found Sammy Figueroa to be a more melodically attuned percussionist than Kimati Dinizulu. (These are improvements of degree, not wholesale renovations.) The bass-drums hookup of Bob Cranshaw and Kobie Watkins was as grounded as on a fine Tarrytown concert last year. That concert, too, by the way, included merry-go-round expanded versions of “Patanjali” and “Global Warming,” which served here as transcendental warm-ups, rewarding a listener for patience.
Finally, Ornette. The internet has not yet produced countervailing evidence of a prior onstage collabo -- though for the record, yes, I am aware of this double bill. There really was a gasp as Coleman slowly made his way to the center of the stage, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the first couple of solo exchanges were absorbed in a wide-eyed fugue state. From an objective standpoint, the Jim Hall summit on “If Ever I Would Leave You” was stronger and more coherent musically, no question. But the Rollins-Coleman meetup was the thing that still had me buzzing afterward, just like my Twitter feed.
Speaking of which, if you’re seeking more quick context on the history between Sonny and Ornette, Peter Hum’s got you covered. And if you’re seeking bootleg audio of the concert -- well, I can’t ethically steer you in any particular direction there. Ask around. Now, how about some other reflections from Friday night? Your comments and links are most welcome, below.