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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sonny Rollins is still rolling

For a 76 year-old man with a slight limp and an eccentric fashion sense, Sonny Rollins still managed to be the coolest person in Centennial Hall Friday.

When the jazz icon staggered onstage clutching a saxophone and wearing sunglasses and fiery red pants, it was like watching the Rosetta Stone: the ancient relic of a man served as a window to the past, enlightening and entertaining with his anachronistic demeanor.

Younger students in the Hall may not have been alive during Rollins’s jazz empire, but just watching him command the stage gave us an impression of what it was like to play alongside Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and John Coltrane decades ago in the climax of American music.

Rollins grasped his saxophone nonchalantly, swaying back and forth like a possessed holy-man, improvising multi-octave scales and riffs. Every note was on-point, usually in tune and concise.

Taking turns with every member of his five man backup band, Rollins would belt out strong melodies from past and present, and then digress into long solos, straying from the material but always bringing it back.

Most pieces would last over ten minutes, giving the guitar, drums, bass and trombone each time to experiment with their own jams soloistically. During their first piece, “”Sonny Please”” (the title track of Rollins’s upcoming album) a simple background rhythm provided by the drums gave Rollins a chance to branch out and confidently take the stage.

In “”Nice Lady,”” triangles shimmered in and out of bassist Bob Cranshaw’s down-tempo solo, accessorizing his casual strumming. The bass notes seemed to float along like a bullfrog in a lake, almost not making it from one to the next.

Auxiliary percussionist Kimati Dinizulu often stole the show with his passionate bongo solos, sometimes tapping an exotic spiraled symbol that unraveled to the ground. In the finale, the entire audience went silent while he started off quiet and then built up momentum until he energetically pounded the instruments, his hands moving faster than a machine.

With a note of humor in his voice, Rollins encouraged the audience to support a number of political campaigns including global warming and “”keeping our kids in school,”” and then left them with parting words Rollins has chosen to live his life by.

“”Keep thinking the right thing, keep doing what you’re doing,”” Rollins said, and then left the stage.

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