Friday, April 9, 2010

REVIEW: Jazz great Sonny Rollins at the DSO

Sonny Rollins: Jazz that Feeds the Soul

On Tuesday night, I went to the DSO to see Jazz tenor saxophone great Sonny Rollins in concert as part of the DSO's Paradise Jazz Series. I received the tickets courtesy of the DSO.

I have to confess that I use to listen to jazz a lot when I was younger, but I really have not taken much time with it over the last few years. My music tastes of late have been more fast food than seven course dinners. After all, jazz songs don't end in 3 1/2 minutes. Jazz attempts to feed your soul, so it cannot be rushed. To drive home this point, let me tell you a funny story from the other night. As I was walking into Orchestra Hall, I overheard a man asking the usher what time the concert would end. The usher looked at the man and said "Well sir, it is jazz. So it could last 2 hours or maybe even 3. It all depends how Sonny Rollins feels".

Sonny Rollins, at age 80, took the stage to a standing ovation from a packed theatre and his performance did not disappoint. Mr. Rollins is one of the few surviving icons of the golden era of jazz and he has worked over the years with jazz legends such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Max Roach.
Mr. Rollins was phenomenal and had the stamina of someone 1/4 of his age. The entire audience was engaged in his performance from beginning to end. Heads were bopping in sync to the music and many people had their eyes closed and a smile on their face. As I sat there listening to songs like "My One and Only Love" and "Why Was I Born", I actually felt myself really relaxing and enjoying the whole lengthy journey on which I was being taken.

It was a wonderful concert and also a learning experience for me in Detroit history. After the first song, Mr. Rollins addressed the audience and said how wonderful it was to be playing again in Detroit at the Paradise Theatre. Since I knew we were all sitting in Orchestra Hall, I was a little confused by his statement and I think so were some others in the audience. So when I got home, I looked up the history of the DSO, and sure enough Mr. Rollins knows what he is talking about. After Orchestra Hall closed in 1939, it was reopened in 1941 as the Paradise Theater where African American jazz flourished until it closed in 1951. Click here to read about the history of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Paradise Theater for yourself. The DSO named the jazz series "The Paradise Jazz Series" as a nod to these past times.
The next Jazz concert at the DSO will be "Michel Camilo & Friends" on Friday, May 7th at 8 pm. Click here for more information on this concert billed as "virtuosic jazz at its best".
In the mean time, here is a performance from 1982 of Sonny Rollins playing "My One and Only Love". This is the 7 minute version. He played a 20 minute version at the DSO and it was amazing. There is nothing as good as listening to live music...


Post a Comment