Thursday 7 May 2009

Sonny Rollins - East Broadway Run Down (1966)


Sonny Rollins sparring with Freddie Hubbard (title tune only) backed by the reunited Coltrane drum’n’bass section of Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison sounds like an enticing lineup for this May, 1966 session at Van Gelder’s and it is! Jones had left Coltrane earlier that year, as had McCoy Tyner, but Garrison remained, uniting again with Jones to back Rollins in this session recorded around the same time Coltrane’s Live At The Village Vanguard Again! was recorded.

The title tune, filling side one, is a long, rumbling, raucous effort that marches and rumbles along supported much of the way by Garrison’s one note pulse and Jones’s percolating tom rolls and splashy cymbal work. Rollins chews off big hunks of bluesy melody, sometimes sounding like he’s madly leading a cavalry charge and other times (occasionally with the mouthpiece detached!) sounding like squeaky subway wheels negotiating a curve, mostly way behind the beat. He locks up intensely with Hubbard only occasionally, on the piece’s main theme, which the two ride out for tune’s abrupt finale. It’s an oddly (un)structured, yet inviting album side of experimental free jazz that never wears out its welcome and sounds more daring as the years pass.

Side two opens with “Blessing in Disguise,” a tuneful Rollins composition featuring a catchy, riff based on Lionel Hampton’s “Hey Ba Ba Re Bop,” that Rollins burns into your subconscious with juicy, full throated repetitions and a great, loping Garrison solo.

The album concludes with the ballad “We Kiss In A Shadow,” a cover from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” that’s taken at a ultra-leisurely pace, with Rollins at first spilling the melody with gorgeous, straight-forward lyricism followed by a deconstructed rendering taken at a languid pace, that flutters and drifts off into the ether, ending both the album and Rollins’ recording career for a full six years.

A short, but important album in the Rollins discography, that has a powerful pull and, thanks to the rhythm section, a swagger and weight that doesn’t quit, even after decades of listening. Michael Fremer, Musicangle



Sonny Rollins - tenor sax
Freddie Hubbard - trumpet (on #1 only)
Jimmy Garrison - bass
Elvin Jones - drums

1. East Broadway Run Down
2. Blessing in Disguise
3. We Kiss in a Shadow

Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder.
Cover painting by Mel Cheren.
Released by Impulse! in 1966.
CD re-issue in 1995.


Dedicated to the memory of Frank Fontana, who first introduced me to this record some 15 years ago.

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