It is an honour to witness the performance of a living legend, whose musical career spans through most of the 20th century, and beyond it to date.
When the white afro-haired and bearded old man walks up the stage with a shuffle, his tenor saxophone in hand, the audience roars up with appreciation. One might wonder, why?
Seconds later, the “Saxophone Colossus” proves, in the first upbeat tune that he plays with his quintet (Clifton Anderson on trombone, Bob Cranshaw on bass, Saul Rubin on guitar, Sammy Figueroa on percussion and Kobie Watkins on drums), that there is no sign of aging in his music: it feels as if a tornado would sweep through all of the Grand Auditorium of the Philharmonie, Luxembourg.
During the six lengthy pieces (seven with the “encore”) of the 90-minute show, the maestro and his quintet impress their audience with a variety of styles and moods from lighter Caribbean vibes and a melodic tune dedicated to the young Sonny’s highly appreciated mentor, J.J. Johnson, to the more hard bop, richly improvisational ‘’Italian folk song” and some of Rollins’ best known standards such as St.Thomas; all impregnated with talkative tenor saxophone solos of heroic proportions; full of harmonic flavour, intellect and audacity.
His lifelong contribution to the international jazz scene that won him several Grammy awards, and many a renowned recognition (the latest of which is the National Medal of Arts awarded by President Barack Obama in 2010) is portrayed in a Documentary film by Dick Fontaine ‘’Sonny Rollins Beyond the notes”, that will be screened before his next appearance at the London Jazz Festival, on this coming Saturday, 10th November 2012.