Sonny ROLLINS – The Solo Album 1985

Sonny ROLLINS – The Solo Album 1985
M-9137, CA 671


Recorded live at the Museum of Modern Art, Sculpture Garden in the summer of 1985, this album captures Rollins performing an entire program of unaccompanied improvisation. For some, the rigors of an full-length album of spontaneous composition on solo saxophone may be a bit much. For fans of Rollins, the instrument or the art of extended improvisation however, the disc is a delight. It becomes an exhilarating exercise in concentration to follow the artist’s imagination as it whirls through the horn, plumbing its depths, bending its outer limits, flying through blinding glissandos and pulling out quotes to standards, children’s nursery rhymes and popular tunes like rabbits out of hats.
Like Coltrane, Rollins played his way through two worlds: the old school of allegiance to melody and song structure, and the postmodern realm of free-form invention. THE SOLO ALBUM weighs more heavily on the latter, as Rollins the songster is deconstructed and patchworked by Rollins the improviser in a process that is fascinating and inspiring to behold.
“The Solo Album” is a title to be taken quite literally when it comes to this 1985 release from the legendary sax master Sonny Rollins. The entire album is nearly an hours worth of unaccompanied solo tenor saxophone recorded live at New York’s Mueseum of Modern Art. While Sonny has recorded unaccompanied sax solos before, this is the first time he had done it on an entire album and I must say, the end result is stunning!! Throughout the album, we hear Sonny continually building up spontaneous inventions without ever running out of ideas. During these long improvisations, Sonny sometimes teases the audience by beginning to quote phrases from some well known pieces such as “Camptown Races”, “Mr. P.C.”, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and his own “Saint Thomas” before scurring back to a rapid flurry of notes and scales – sheets of sound.
This is indeed a great and unusual album from the great Sonny Rollins and I definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to learn about what real saxophone playing is. Here’s an hours-worth of sax and nothing but the sax from one its legendary innovators – the master Sonny Rollins.
By  Louie Bourland.
This recording is a dream come true for Sonny Rollins fans, as Rollins presents an entire program without accompaniment in what must have been the ideal setting of the Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden. As expected, Rollins drops allusions all over the place and spins core melodic ideas into extended variations. The real fun, though, is simply getting caught up in the inspired whirl of the Rollins imagination as it darts here and there, managing to be both coherent and unpredictable in a manner that has earned him recognition as the music’s supreme improviser. The enthusiastic audience, delighted to be along for the ride, even gets into the act at the close of this colossal solo session.

A. Soloscope, (Pt.1) 28:15
B. Soloscope, (Pt.2) 27:55
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