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Sonny Rollins blindfold test

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I hear ya, but if I fall, it's just off the curb, or maybe off the ladder screwing in lightbulbs. If Sonny falls, it's off the mountaintop. That's a sickening fall. That's a deadly fall. I don't know which came first, junk, then the fear of falling, or the fear of falling, then the junk. I mentioned it before, Coltrane seemed ready, and indeed was, ready to nudge or shove Sonny off that mountaintop, so Sonny retreated to the top of a bridge. Sonny superseded.

Having been over that bridge, I know it takes something powerful to get me up there in the middle of the night, when the cold wind blows off the East River. When Sonny crossed that bridge, he crossed his own career. I know that's pop psychology but it makes some sense to me. It's like something out of Sophocles or Shakespeare. Resigning your kingdom to more powerful rivals. But, Sonny made his own little kingdom, filled with courtiers, enablers, yes-sayers. It's fine until one goes into the great outer world.

Anyway, I don't feel betrayed by Sonny. I don't seek anything from Sonny. I've never deified him. I just listen to the better stuff, ignore the second-rate stuff, occasionally mull over his Sophoclean career. For me to rationalize it, exaggerate it, inflate it, would just make me another enabler.

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This discussion is becoming quite reminiscent of a recent debate here on Jackie McLean--basically what the artist owes, and to whom.

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I stopped "deifying" him a long time ago...he's a flawed-hero to me (the only kind to have, imo), and the love I have for him is based as much in his willingness to prioritize as he saw fit, not as was "demanded" of him by fans/commerce/"art"/etc, as it is that at any given moment (up until the last year or so) he could let you in on a world that is just...insanely brilliant, genius, really.

Is that ultimately selfish on his part? Could be, but whose life is it anyway, as they say? We see so many people who either go crazy, or numb, or dead, or some combination of all that, from trying to "keep up" instead of just keeping it together, by any means necessary. He made his choice, by all appearances it seems to have worked for him, 40 years, no sabbatical/retirement, so Sonny Rollins for the Keeping Yourself Together On Your Own Terms win.

Deify him? Far from it. I don't know that I'm in the mood for any kind of a "deity" these days, that always requires some kind of middleman, be it a pastor or Orrin Keepnews or George Wein or Down Beat Record Mr. Concert Spotlite or some/any other schmuck charged with Provisioning Those Deliverables. So please, no Deities.

But love him now and, likely forever, warts and all? Oh hell yeah!

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Getting back to the thread topic for a sec, what recordings were played for Sonny on this Blindfold Test?

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Also implicit in this discussion is the notion that Sonny must continue to hire young musicians to challenge himself. The bandleader that reminds me most of is Blakey. Constantly hiring younger guys. But did his music really change? Nope; one can argue it stagnated more than Rollins ever has.

Really, it sounds like the bandleader being idolized here for that stance is Paul Motian. But let's face it, Sonny is a worldwide star, Motian, for all his talents, far less so. That does make a difference.

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sonny rollins is not obliged to fullfill the dedicated follower s expectations. the (dedicated) follower is entitled having these - for some of the latermentioned it s satiesfying having a great rollins album after more than 25 years (aka in 1996) and for others not so much, both views possibly based on choices and not necessarily on verdicts.

Edited by soulpope

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1) not young players, BETTER players; anyway, I don't think Sonny at this point would be able to hire older players.

2) stop setting up straw men arguments, people. Nobody on the McLean discussion said anything about the artist owing anything to anyone; we sure as hell are entitled to judge his music, sonny's music, anybody's music. That's it. Though one might get into a more complex argument on the ethics of creativity.

Edited by AllenLowe

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I think Sonny Rollins replied to his critics with this

51JqkBeg4BL.jpg

Take it or leave, it's all the same to him at this point, but don't go expecting him to become something different just to fulfill some one else's hopes/desires.

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All this discussion is about an artist who, in his younger days, gave us some of the most intensely creative music any human being could have created. It's no wonder that he hasn't sustained such heights over a lifetime - whoever could? Certainly the most glorious jazz music I ever heard in public was night after night during the week Rollins played in Chicago in 1972 (w/Walter Davis, Cecil McBee, and a drummer [Who? may have even been Wilbur Campbell {??}]). I've also heard beauties in almost every Rollins concert and festival show since then.

Do we jazz collectors get greedy sometimes?

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I wouldn't say greedy; but he has disappointed us; and really, I think, let himself down. And just re-above, if our desires are that he reach the heights once reached, what's wrong with that? And iff we can't impose our desires on externally creative people, then why do anything, listen to anything, attend anything?

Edited by AllenLowe

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I can think of no higher calling in life than to impose my desires on externally creative people.

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well, if they don't want to be judged they should allow their creations to remain......internal.

we do this in every aspect of life, from politics to relationships. And it is a high calling; ask any critic worth his/her salt. I've learned more from Larry Kart's writing than I have from Sonny's playing in the last 30 years.

Edited by AllenLowe

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am I projectng unfairly when I critcize a politician for making poor choices and decisions?

and that's only politics; this is music. Way more important and lasting.

Edited by AllenLowe

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. And it is a high calling; ask any critic worth his/her salt.

Is Francis Davis worth his salt? He has both Sonny Rollins' and your release on his 2014 best list

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yes, Francis is obviously a man of taste and discernment; doesn't mean we agree on everything.

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"Impose our desires"....was that the phrase you meant to use? It seems kind of...creepy to me. Like here's a performer surrounded by all these craven creatures who are looking for nothing more than to have their way with the performer, and if the performer won't/doesn't oblige willingly, then the audience will impose their desires on them until something gives way.

That just doesn't sound like a healthy situation for anybody, either the imposer or the imposee. Not healthy at all.

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well, if they don't want to be judged they should allow their creations to remain......internal.

we do this in every aspect of life, from politics to relationships. And it is a high calling; ask any critic worth his/her salt. I've learned more from Larry Kart's writing than I have from Sonny's playing in the last 30 years.

Uh-oh.

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Musicians tend to have more peaks than valleys. Even an album at a time. They tend to have songs that are much more inspired and more compelling than other songs. They can have whole albums that don't do a thing for me, despite other (usually previous) albums that were entirely enthralling.

There's usually a white-hot peak, where the musician catches lightning in a bottle for a spell, and then it fades out. The truly great ones are able to capture that lightning more often than others. It seems to emanate from them and electrify everyone around them, too.

Some here wanted Sonny Rollins to keep catching exciting new types of lightning. Sonny, he just likes tinkering with the one he caught the first time.

It makes me think of how some musicians have described feeling as though the music already exists somewhere in the universe, and they're able to tap into it, channel it through their instrument, and the music plays itself. A beautiful muse, she waits for the musician who can hear and interpret her for everyone's ears.

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I think the place for imposing desire is between the performer and the performance...and even then, not absolutely.

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well, if they don't want to be judged they should allow their creations to remain......internal.

we do this in every aspect of life, from politics to relationships. And it is a high calling; ask any critic worth his/her salt. I've learned more from Larry Kart's writing than I have from Sonny's playing in the last 30 years.

Uh-oh.

:D :D

gregmo

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Speaking of Rollins and fond memories, today I thought in passing of "The Christmas Song" and recalled that its lyric was written by Bob Wells, who also wrote "Born To Be Blue" and other songs with Mel Torme. Somewhere in the back of my mind, Wells' name was there as the lyricist of a tune (composer was one David Saxon) that inspired one of my favorite though not that well-known Rollins recordings, "What's My Name," from the trio side (with Henry Grimes and Specs Wright) of the Metrojazz album "Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass."

The tune, at least in Rollins' hands, was so imposingly noble and shapely that I wondered where it came from. A bit of poking around led me to Billy Eckstine's recording, which probably was the one that had stuck in Rollins' head way back when and then inspired his version. Here they both are:

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