Sonny's playing makes up for some poor cinematic technique.
Douglas Groothuis | 05/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 101 minute performance and documentary is taken from material mostly from 1986 (although there is a short clip from Sonny's "Jazz Casuals" appearance in the early 1960s). It features two very different performances: Sonny's working quintet and a special performance with an orchestra in Japan, "Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra." I have not found the latter released on CD.I know far more about John Coltrane than Sonny Rollins, but I was overwhelmed by Rollin's playing on this video, especially his work with his combo. His energy and creativity far transcended anything I have from him on record. But that's not surprising, since many reviewers claim he is best live and doesn't really like to spend time in the studio.Sonny's physical presence is commanding. His body english is perfectly matched to every note--every ounce of his being is put into the playing. (This reminded me a bit of Joshua Redman, who I saw perform in Denver in April--another monster!) And what playing it is! The long solo--chorus after chorus--of "G-Man," which begins the video, is phenomenal. It brought chills to my spine and tears to my eyes.The orchestral piece was interesting and rewarding, although somewhat more difficult to approach. I wish it were available on CD, but I have not been able to find it. I think it would reveal its depths upon repeated listenings.The cinematic technique falters at times, particularly in the Japan part of the video. We see too much random shots of Japanese culture--including many images of blinking billboards!--and not enough of Sonny himself. Why not simply show him performing? He's the master.Several jazz critics comment on Sonny's art, including Gary Giddens, an articulate and passionate communicator who featured prominately in Ken Burn's "Jazz."I hope I can see this man perform live while he remains in the land of the living. He's seventy, now--and a living legend.Douglas Groothuis, Denver Seminary"
Sonny Interviewed! Sonny vintage footage...Sonny LIVE!
Douglas Groothuis | 10/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is fabulous and filmed skillfully! I could have lived without the pontification from the jazz critics...but use that time to get some refreshments. Sonny is one of the GIANTS of the saxophone and this document as his playing/recording will stand the test of time!!"
Not enough music
Douglas Groothuis | 08/03/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"While this video starts with an amazing performance at a stone quarry in Saugerties, New York; there's just way too little music. In a video I don't need to hear critics drone on and on about what makes Sonny great. That ought to be self-evident from the musical content. There are also interviews with Sonny and his wife that could have been condensed and offered as a "special feature." The japanese orchestral performance was interesting but, really, I'd like to see the rest of the Saugerties concert. Overall, there's maybe thirty minutes of worthwhile footage."