Night Lights Classic Jazz

Sonny Rollins: Live in London

Mid-1960s club recordings reveal the saxophonist in full, uninhibited stride.

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Sonny Rollins Live in London

Photo: CD cover art

A Sonny night in London town: Rollins live at Ronnie Scott's.

It’s been a long-standing paradigm in the Sonny Rollins story that his live recordings, particularly from the 1960s on, reflect a more adventurous and exciting performer than do his studio albums. Jazz musician Jim Sangrey has written, “For years now I’ve read reviews of Sonny’s club dates from the mid-60s, and they all go on and on about how the guy was into a stream-of-consciousness medley thing, starting and stopping at will, changing tunes in mid-stream, playing long solo interludes, walking all over the room to get different sounds from different areas, all kinds of stuff that makes it sound like the gig wasn’t just a gig, but an EXPERIENCE…all those reviews have remained as triggers of tantalizing fantasies of things never to be heard. Until now.”

Harkit Records has begun to release CDs of Sonny Rollins’ performances from Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London, recorded in January 1965. Playing with a British rhythm section, emerging from the explorative years of his RCA period, Rollins was captured on tape in full, uninhibited stride. Selections from the first two volumes are featured on this edition of Night Lights, including “Blue ‘n Boogie,” “A Foggy Day,” and “Four.” Some of these tracks can now be purchased in MP3 form from Rollins’ website.

Music Heard On This Episode

Autumn Nocturne (excerpt)
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 1 (harkit records, 1965)
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Autumn Nocturne (excerpt)
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 1 (harkit records, 1965)
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album cover
Blue 'n Boogie
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 1 (Harkit Records, 1965)

Notes: Written by Dizzy Gillespie.

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Four
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 1 (Harkit Records, 1965)

Notes: Written by Miles Davis.

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Nutty
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 2 (Harkit Records, 1965)

Notes: midpoint music bed.

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My One and Only Love
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 1 (Harkit Records, 1965)
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A Foggy Day
Sonny Rollins — Live in London V. 2 (Harkit Records, 1965)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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