Monday, May 15, 2006

"The Bridge" review

The Bridge~ Sonny Rollins

"Bridge" an essential album of a jazz icon

Greg A. Locascio (DeKalb, IL USA) - See all my reviews

I first discovered this album a couple weeks ago and cannot get it out of my head. The liner notes indicate "The Bridge" was recorded after Rollins took a self-imposed three year break from music. He used his time well.

The streets of New York City seem to ring out in the overtones. Jim Hall provides a subtle, though haunting guitar accompaniment. This music conjures a sweaty night on a brownstone stoop, neighborhood boys playing a game of pick-up on a halogen-lit court, concrete and brick all around, steam from a sewer pipe, and a lonely saxophone heard over the din of traffic and life.

According to George Avakian's liner notes, the inspiration for the album's title supposedly comes from a story by Ralph Berton in the July 1961 issue of "Metronome" about a jazz fan who hears the sound of a saxophone on the Brooklyn Bridge. During his hiatus, Rollins didn't live far from it. The rhythms of the street, the rolling Hudson River, come through in the music.

The album I have is a 1968 RCA re-issue (APL1-0859) and has an image of a blue-lit Rollins playing super-imposed over a blue-lit image of the Brooklyn Bridge. The back cover has a black and white photo of Rollins, sidelit, his face barely shown, but lines and keys of his saxophone in vivid detail. This album looks nearly as good as it sounds.

[Note: The photo that accompanies this review is from the original release of "The Bridge," April 1962.]

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