Newk is NEVER Without a Song…
February 1, 2011 4 Comments
One of my favorite jazz CDs in recent years is the Grammy-winning Without A Song – The 9/11 Concert by legendary tenor-saxophonist Sonny Rollins. This CD was of a live-performance by Sonny (who is also known as “Newk”, given to him by a NYC cabbie in the ’40s because he resembled baseball-player Don Newcombe) and his band at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on Saturday evening, September 15, 2001. The gig was already scheduled at the time, but events far beyond his control that occurred near his New York City home the previous Tuesday morning, just 4 days earlier – 9/11 – gave the gig a whole new purpose and meaning!
That Tuesday morning as he was rehearsing in his downtown Manhattan apartment, two hijacked commercial airline jets (loaded with passengers, and fuel for a cross-country flight) were intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center (just 6 blocks away from Sonny’s pad!) and sent the two main towers aflame and eventually tumbling down into piles of mangled steel, concrete & dust with a loss of nearly 3,000 civilian & first-responder casualties. Sonny’s apartment-building was soon engulfed in the thick, grey, toxic fog of the collapsed towers and he was forced to evacuate with little more than his horn in his hand & the very threads on his back! Despite the intense trauma & emotions he must’ve felt, Sonny was convinced by his wife Lucille (who, sadly, passed last year) to continue on with the Berklee gig as a means of “trying to forget” what happened on 9/11.
The result is a very joyous, albeit emotional, set of music that I will always treasure as I play the CD in my home, computer, car, iPad or wherever!
“Global Warming” which is on the CD. This performance is with much of the same lineup (pianist Steve Scott, bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Perry Wilson), but recorded in Finland a few years earlier. Despite the video-weirdness (probably a codec-issue), the audio is killer!
A more recent concert – here he digs into “Don’t Stop The Carnival”…
One more…this time we go a little further back: Newk on TV (mid-’60s) chillin’ with “St. Thomas”.
(w/pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath) – dig the RIPPING bass-solo by NHØP!!