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Sonny Rollins
Global Warming,  Milestone CD MCD-9280-2, 1998

 A force of nature

Sonny Rollins may not be as green as he used to be, age-wise, but this titan tenor has just released an album as socially aware as a college activist. Rollins stretches out on this release’s six cuts, with nothing on it lasting anything less than six-an-a-half minutes.

The title cut carries with it a semi-Caribbean feel, and is anchored by Stephen Scott’s piano and kalimba work. On this foundation, Rollins and trombonist Clifton Anderson skip like stones over a peaceful lake with their sharply pointed staccato notes, sounding closer to a warm tropical beach than the impending disaster the title implies.

This album’s longest tune is called "Mother Nature’s Blues" and Scott’s McCoy Tyner-like piano work, combined with Rollins’ crying sax, sound a lot like Coltrane might have, had Greenpeace been around during his heyday to inspire him.

Only one of these songs just doesn’t seem to belong. Although nicely played, a version of Irving Berlin’s "Change Partners" is just too sweet a tune to fit with all these nature-centric numbers.

Over the years, much new growth has sprouted on the jazz scene. But like a tree planted near the water, Rollins’ playing continues to be evergreen.– Dan MacIntosh

 Glenn Brooks says... I agree with Dan about Clifton Anderson’s contributions; I hope Sonny records a whole album with him soon. Regarding "Change Partners," Rollins has always had a knack–or character fault, depending on how you feel about it–for picking off-beat tunes for his albums. Remember  Way out West?

Copyright © 1999 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.