Tuesday, May 3, 2016


“Holding the Stage” is the fourth installment of saxophonist Sonny Rollins’s Road Shows series, available on his label Doxy Records. Like the other Road Shows volumes, Rollins picked unreleased music from live shows in London, France, Finland, and the Czech Republic. “You’re Mine You,” and “Don’t Stop the Carnival” are the only cuts included from stateside concerts. “Holding the Stage” is delightful and the most engaging album in the series. The music spans 1979 to 2012 and charts Rollin’s evolution as a journeyman improviser. Rollins unveiled a disco inspired composition titled “Disco Monk,” written for the jazz icon pianist Thelonious Monk. Throughout the “Holding the Stage,” Rollins played a lot of horn, especially on “Solo”. On it, listeners are privy to the depths of his imagination. What sets the recording apart from the other Road Shows volumes is the engineering. “Holding the Stage” comes off as one live concert.

“Horizon Ahead” is saxophonist Benny Golson's current gift to his fan base. Sonny Rollins is the king of improvisation and Golson is the God of sophistication. Man, Golson has a delicious tone, and he knows how to court and seduce a song. Golson packed “Horizon Ahead” with some oldies such as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Mood Indigo,” Lulu’s Back in Town,” and “Night Shade”.  And he hired bassist Buster Williams, drummer Carl Allen, and pianist Mike LeDonne. Each possesses a high swing acumen. Golson showed the musicians much love. Le Donne had the piano floating, and the crowd favorite is Golson's and William's duet on "Lulu's Back in Town". Golson took the expression giving the drummer some to another level. On the 9th selection, Golson offered a mini-lecture on the ins and outs of jazz improvisation. Then on the next cut “Out of the Darkness, and Into The Light,” Allen played an improvised drum solo that would turn the devil into an avid jazz fan.
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