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Strolling with Rollins (3)

tue 12 dec 2023
Theme: Jazz

Saturday Dec 16th, 5:00 PM – House of Hard Bop.
Tenor Sonny Rollins crossed the ocean in 1959, together with bassist Henry Grimes, for his first European tour: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy. On March 11, he stood in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Hot Club d’Aix in Aix-en-Provence, southern France. Here the trio formation was completed by drummer Kenny Clarke, who had been living in France for several years. Rollins was on the eve of a lengthy sabbatical. The recording of this concert is therefore the last before he retired for several years for study and reflection. “I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft (…).”
Rollins’ energy and creativity seem limitless here. While he achieved a maximum duration of 10’27” and 14’03” each when recording Way Out West and A Night at the Village Vanguard, in Aix he fills almost an hour with just three pieces. The third, Lady Bird, clocks in at 18 minutes! He drags his accompanists along with him. Drummer Kenny Clarke also shows himself to be highly inspired and tireless in trading fours that seem to have no end. Unfortunately, Henry Grimes’ bass remains in the background of the soundstage.
After an hour of Woody’n You, But Not For Me and Lady Bird, the audience wanted more. But Rollins refrained from doing so with the words: “Je suis fatigué.”

Rollins took a long sabbatical, but Henry Grimes completely disappeared from the radar in the late 1960s. Dead? Decades later he was ‘found’ in a destitute state. Some musicians and fans helped him get back on his feet, and Grimes resumed his successful career – now in the free jazz genre.

The fourth and final piece in this hour comes from Rollins in Holland, the CD release of a Dutch tour in 1967. Accompanied by Ruud Jacobs and Han Bennink you will hear his version of Blue Room. At just under five minutes, this seems like an encore. Not every listener will enjoy the swimming pool acoustics.

This is the last part of the triptych ‘Strolling with Rollins’.

Click for the newsletter about Part 1
Click for the broadcast of Part 1
Click for the newsletter about Part 2
Click for the broadcast of Part 2

House of Hard Bop – Eric Ineke

Photo: Sonny Rollins during the recording of A Night at the Village Vanguard
Francis Wolff/Blue Note Records