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June 22, 2009

"Sonny Boy" - Sonny Rollins

I picked up a copy of this at the county library a ways back and had just finally got a chance to sit down with it. What an incredible set! Rollins plays hard on this superb bop classic released in 1960, the disc contains a combination of two different recording dates from 1956, the first three cuts were already previously released. Recorded shortly after the devastating car accident that took Clifford Brown and Richie Powell... Max Roach, Sonny Rollins and George Morrow still played powerfully as Kenny Drew filled in nicely.

The album starts off with a medium tempo, straight blues called Ee-Ah to set the flavor of what's to come. It is soon followed by what makes the disc truly amazing -- the super fast tempo and insane improvisations of B. Quik and B. Swift. As much as John Coltrane was an innovator, I can't help but wonder how be-bop tunes like these influenced him, especially to record such a great cut like Countdown from Giant Steps.

Max Roach equally stands as strong as Rollins, showing why he was one of the greatest drummers to have existed. Drummers like myself owe so much to him.

Things slow down for the ballad, The House I Live In. Trumpeter, Kenny Dorham, joins Rollins and Wade Legge replaces Kenny Drew on keys. This is a straight ahead tune, and even though it is strong, it stands out the least for me on the set. The fifth and final is the title track, Sonny Boy, which displays Sonny Rollins as we know and love him. Perfectly exemplifying his sound as we can recognize in so many of his great albums.

This album screams modernity. Prestige even precariously choose a hip Abstract Expressionist-esq album cover which generates the tone contained inside the packaging. Fans of free jazz and bop should not neglect this album.
1960 - Prestige.

Sonny Rollins - Tenor Saxophone; Kenny Dorham - Trumpet; Kenny Drew, Wade Legge - Piano; George Morrow - Bass; Max Roach - Drums.

June 10, 2009

"Chops" by Bruce Broder

I just got this sent to my inbox. A new documentary by Bruce Broder called Chops is out.

Click here for a list of scheduled screenings. Also a DVD is in the works.

Here's the synopsis taken from their site:

CHOPS tells the story of a group of kids with extraordinary musical ability who learn to make the most of their gifts in an acclaimed public school jazz program in Jacksonville, FL.

From their early, squeaky scales to soaring, improvisational solos, we have a front row seat for their fascinating transformation. We’re with them as they stick together and as they fall apart. And we see up close how the events of their daily lives are expressed in their music. We follow their musical journey from Florida to New York City, where they compete against the top high school jazz bands in the nation at the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival.

Win or lose, the Essentially Ellington experience puts them at the threshold of their dream, and reveals the incredible growth they’ve experienced personally and musically.

I'm looking forward to this one. It'll be interesting to see young talents like these school kids fully enthralled in jazz. Something I'm envious of as I missed the opportunity when i was younger.

Chops Trailer from B-Side Entertainment on Vimeo.