Dazzling Live Sides by
Receive First Authorized Release on
Resonance's Record Store Day Offering "Freedom Weaver:
The 1959 European Tour Recordings"
Potent Trio Sides Featuring the Tenor Sax Giant with
Bassist Henry Grimes & Drummers Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, & Joe Harris
Arrive as Limited Four-LP Set on April 20 &
Three-CD Package & Digital Download Edition on April 26
Deluxe Package Includes Rare Photos, Detailed Notes by Bob Blumenthal, &
Interviews with Rollins & Fellow Tenor Men Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, James Carter,
James Brandon Lewis, & the Late Peter Brötzmann
February 15, 2024
Resonance Records, the award-winning home of archival jazz treasures, will proudly present a new, fully authorized live collection by tenor master Sonny Rollins, Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings, as a limited edition four-LP set on Record Store Day, April 20.
Never before issued as a legitimate release, these much-bootlegged sides—which feature Rollins, at the height of his early powers, with bassist Henry Grimes and drummers Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, and Joe Harris—will subsequently reach stores as a three-CD set and digital download edition on April 26.
This stunning package captured at Rollins’s concerts and radio and TV appearances in Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, and France in March 1959 succeeds Resonance’s first fully authorized music drawn from the Dutch Jazz Archive (NJA), 2020’s Rollins in Holland, a widely praised collection of 1967 live dates.
The LP edition of Freedom Weaver was mastered for 180-gram vinyl by Bernie Grundman. The deluxe booklet for both configurations will include detailed notes by the Grammy-winning writer Bob Blumenthal; a new interview with Rollins; thoughtful tributes from fellow tenorists Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, James Carter, James Brandon Lewis, and the late Peter Brötzmann; and rare photographs by Ed van der Elsken, Jean Pierre Leloir, Bob Parent, and others.
Resonance co-president and producer Zev Feldman says of the forthcoming set, “In the spring of 2022, I spoke to Sonny about the possibility of releasing what I regard as very important recordings which have only been available until now as unauthorized releases: these masterpieces recorded during Sonny’s European tour in 1959. It’s a crime that Mr. Rollins has never been paid for bootleggers’ exploitations of his work. With this release, we at Resonance are taking another step to ameliorate the wrongs committed by those who would misappropriate the creative output of this magnificent artist.”
The famously exacting Rollins told Feldman, “Listening to older recordings of myself years after they were made, I tend to be self-critical. I’m always trying to get better. But on these recordings, I was in a good mood, and some of the places we played I hadn’t been to before. I was uplifted because I was appreciated there. Everything seemed to be happy within the groups and in the performances. It was all very positive and I’m actually very happy that Resonance has gotten together with me to put them out. I think they add to who I am and what I’ve done.”
In a 1961 letter quoted in Aidan Levy’s monumental 2022 biography Saxophone Colossus, Rollins said of his European experience, “This tour proved to be most educational in several ways. For not only did I realize for the first time (and firsthand) the genuine respect and admiration with which jazz is received, but I also learned an important biological lesson: That…there is a true brotherhood of all people!”
In his notes, jazz scholar Blumenthal views the ’59 shows as a culminating event for the artist: “It was not until the spring of 1957…that he attempted an entire session with just bass and drums in support. The resulting Contemporary Records album Way Out West, promoted as an all-star conclave of Rollins and perennial poll winners Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, became an instant classic, but it was no fluke. Rollins reveled in the harmonic freedom afforded by the absence of a comping piano or guitar, and in the months that followed produced two additional trio masterpieces, A Night at the Village Vanguard on Blue Note (primarily with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones) and Freedom Suite on Riverside (with Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach). This unintended triptych…defined what came to be Rollins’s preferred working format, the one he chose to employ when he made his first European tour in February and March of 1959.”
Rollins’s deep impact on succeeding generations of saxophonists is delineated in the interviews conducted by Feldman expressly for Freedom Weaver.
Marsalis says, “I was about 24 the first time I actually HEARD Sonny; HEARD what he was playing. At that time, I was figuring out who I wanted to model my playing after, and Sonny led me to thinking more in sonic terms, rather than harmonic terms. I tried to sound like Sonny, as much as I could. I listened to Sonny religiously for eight or nine months.”
“For me, Sonny was his own style,” says Lovano. “It was like the Sonny Rollins School of playing. And he played with so much love of the music that he was exploring and, in a way, channeling. He was channeling ideas that were fueled by the music that he loved and that he listened to. And also, by players he absorbed in his young life coming up—Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker and singers and the blues. He developed a way of playing that combined of a lot of elements.
Carter says of the master’s all-encompassing style, “I could hear Trane. I could hear Hawkins and Bird in his playing simultaneously. It was like an apparition that would just shift around and morph at certain times. There were rapid passages. You could hear Bird and Hawk, and then sometimes when he’s getting jagged or whatever, you could hear an exaggerated version of Hawk and Bird. It would just come out and then all of a sudden go back, then come back out as a Bird apparition and then a Hawk apparition, and they would come together. It was just continuous. Just listening to him head-on was a revelation in and of itself: here’s somebody who really coalesces, has all the tradition together and was still building upon it and had inexhaustible ideas.”
The new millennium star Lewis notes, “Sonny Rollins is a motivic genius. He’s a jazz equivalent of Bach, really. He can develop anything. For me, you could take any little fragment of Sonny’s and turn it into your own composition.”
In an interview held just eight months before his death, the German free jazz giant Brötzmann offered deep gratitude to his masterful forebear: “I always said to my colleagues here, ‘Man, Rollins is my man.’As an artist, you have to find your own way, your own language, your own way of moving through the world. Sonny Rollins’s example served as a great inspiration, a teacher for me to propel me to develop my own stuff, my own language. I looked to Sonny for that inspiration.”
Photography: © Ed van der Elsken, Nederlands Fotomuseum
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Resonance Records is a multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning label (most recently for John Coltrane’s Offering: Live at Temple University for “Best Album Notes”) that prides itself in creating beautifully designed, informative packaging to accompany previously unreleased recordings by the jazz icons who grace Resonance’s catalog. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Resonance Records is a division of Rising Jazz Stars, Inc. a California 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars and advance the cause of jazz. Current Resonance Artists include Tawanda, Eddie Daniels, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes, and Donald Vega.
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