Holding the Stage Road Shows, vol. 4 For his new album Holding the Stage: Road Shows, vol. 4, the great tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins once again taps into his vast archives of his own concert recordings to compile superior performances for release in the acclaimed Road Shows series. The album encompasses some 33 years (1979-2012) yet coheres with all of the compelling logic and narrative force of an extended Sonny solo.
Holding the Stage, to be released by Doxy Records digitally April 8 and on CD April 15, the second album in a distribution agreement with Sony Music Masterworks and its jazz imprint OKeh, is truly a treasure chest that includes tunes Rollins has never before recorded and musical relationships previously undocumented. "This album consists of various periods of my career, with something for everybody," says Rollins. "It's who I am, and the music represents just about every aspect of what I do."
Three Rollins originals pay tribute to departed friends and colleagues. The soulful blues "H.S.," for Horace Silver, has been a concert staple since its appearance on Sonny's 1995 Milestone album Sonny Rollins +3. Saxophonist/arranger Paul Jeffrey, who died last year at 81, is remembered in the funky "Professor Paul," a new composition making its recorded debut here. Of "Disco Monk," from 1979's Don't Ask (Milestone) and rarely performed since, Rollins told CD annotator Ted Panken: "It was disco-disco-disco then, everywhere you went, but I heard something juxtaposed with [Thelonious] Monk within this disco craze, and I wanted to meld them in a way that both styles would be themselves and yet be one."
Another highlight is a previously unreleased 23-minute medley (and concert closer) from his September 15, 2001 Boston performance, most of which had been immortalized in Rollins's final Milestone album, the Grammy Award-winning Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert. "Sweet Leilani," introduced on his This Is What I Do album of the year before, morphs into a richly evocative solo cadenza and an epically ecstatic "Don't Stop the Carnival."
In the Harlem of his youth, Rollins told Panken, "music was happening on every street corner. So the idea of 'keep the music going' is in that song. Don't stop the carnival. In the case of 9/11, that was especially prophetic."
Sonny Rollins Since launching his Doxy Records imprint in 2006 with the Grammy-nominated studio album Sonny, Please, Sonny Rollins has been turning to his concert recording archive dating back nearly 40 years for release on the label. The selections in Volume 1 (2008) spanned nearly three decades and included a trio track from the saxophonist's 50th-anniversary Carnegie Hall concert, while Volume 2 (2011) focused primarily on his historic 80th-birthday concert at New York's Beacon Theatre. Volume 3 (2014) marked the first recording of "Patanjali" and hinged on a stunning 23-minute excavation of Jerome Kern's "Why Was I Born?"
Holding the Stage: Road Shows, vol. 4 was produced by Rollins and his longtime engineer, Richard Corsello. Personnel includes trombonist Clifton Anderson; pianists Stephen Scott and Mark Soskin; guitarists Bobby Broom, Peter Bernstein, and Saul Rubin; bassists Bob Cranshaw and Jerome Harris; drummers Kobie Watkins, Perry Wilson, Victor Lewis, Jerome Jennings, Al Foster, and Harold Summey Jr.; and percussionists Kimati Dinizulu, Sammy Figueroa, and Victor See Yuen.