"Road Shows Volume 3"
Sonny Rollins is old school enough to know that jazz is best when it's live. His latest release, "Road Shows Volume 3," has the freshness of one of those great 1950's club recordings. Rollins is the reigning monarch of the saxophone so these "clubs" were large concert halls in Japan, France, and St. Louis, but, somehow, the intimacy still comes through. Maybe it's because Rollins has enlisted the same superb band mates for years: Clifton Anderson, trombone; Stephen Scott, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Bobby Broom and Peter Bernstein, guitars; drummers Kobie Watkins, Perry Wilson, Steve Jordan and Victor Lewis; and percussionists Kimati Dinizulu and Sammy Figueroa.
Rollins is known as one of the great soloists in the history of jazz and he doesn't disappoint on several extended solos. But he's generous enough to share the spotlight. Broom's long solo on "Someday I'll Find You" is one of the album's best. As for the repertoire, this album avoids the overly familiar ("St. Thomas," etc.), and instead features great originals like "Patanjali" and "Biji." As for covers, Rollins stretches out on Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's beautiful "Why Was I Born." These tunes were all recorded after Rollins' 70th year but he sounds like an exuberant young player throughout.