June 28, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
A huge roar in the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, the biggest venue of the Montreal Festival, greeted Sonny Rollins. He entered in a flowing red silk shirt, a SHOCK of grey hair, the iconic profile, dark sunglasses, the saxophone and then the sound. The first piece was as simple as four bars, repeated, yet the more he played them, the more I wanted more. And he was generous.
He holds a note a long time, intense and penetrating, then tumbles down the ravine through a syncopated strung-out cadence you feel but can't hold onto to punch the bottom note, spin it. Love those low notes. Everything spins -- the tone, melodies, everything and as the concert progressed, it seemed to spin more. From The Very Thought of You through a calypso (not St Thomas) .. as that applause for that ended, a lady cried out "We love you Sonny!" he stepped to the mic and said "Love you back!" .. an Italian folksong in 3, They Say That Falling in Love Is Wonderful. . . He paced a bit, pumped his fist, sung two choruses of a blues about a no-good woman (has anyone seen Sonny Rollins sing before?) and it was over. I looked up toward the five white stairway-to-heaven boxes plastered to each dark sidewall of this home to the Montreal Symphony and saw people cheering for more. There was a bow but not an encore. It was complete, a concert to remember.
At the beginning of the show, Rollins received the 2010 Miles Davis Award from Montreal's Andre Menard. I'm for a Sonny Rollins Award! And right away.
© 2010 WBGO