When Sonny Rollins Went Dutch

Melissa M. Munoz

By Ed Enright   I  Dec. 25, 2020 Han Bennink (left), Sonny Rollins and Ruud Jacobs in live performance at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst in Arnhem, The Netherlands, the night of Might 3, 1967 (Photo: Toon Fey) Sonny Rollins lives firmly in the existing. The esteemed tenor saxophonist—whose voice […]


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Han Bennink (left), Sonny Rollins and Ruud Jacobs in live performance at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst in Arnhem, The Netherlands, the night of Might 3, 1967

(Photo: Toon Fey)

Sonny Rollins lives firmly in the existing. The esteemed tenor saxophonist—whose voice as slicing-edge jazz artist arrived into whole bloom throughout the 1950s and ’60s—retired from playing live shows in 2012 and put down his horn for superior two many years afterwards.

Now, alternatively of practising and preparing for gigs and tours, he spends his times at his dwelling in upstate New York looking at up on Japanese religions and immersing himself in the mental and non secular factors of yoga, a discipline Rollins has practiced constantly considering that the mid-’50s. For the duration of a cellphone interview in Oct, the 90-calendar year-old NEA Jazz Grasp and DownBeat Corridor of Famer came across as an enlightened guru of fantastic vibes who’s beautifully at peace with his circumstances—and with the planet at huge.

Recently, while, he has been revisiting the previous, offering his blessing to the release of Rollins In Holland, a selection of stay and studio recordings documenting a 1967 Netherlands tour. Rollins is pleased by what he hears: a powerhouse jazz trio consisting of himself and the Dutch rhythm tandem of bassist Ruud Jacobs (1938–2019) and drummer Han Bennink, participating in with frame of mind, vitality and deftness around the course of two club performances and a single studio session.

When Rollins arrived in Holland in May well of that calendar year, he was no stranger to the jazz trio format. Some of his strongest work already was documented on the 1957 Modern day album Way Out West (with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne), the 1958 Riverside LP Independence Suite (with bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Max Roach) and the 1958 Blue Notice launch A Evening At The Village Vanguard (from sets with bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Elvin Jones and with one more tandem, bassist Donald Bailey and drummer Pete LaRoca).

Prior to the Netherlands tour, Rollins, then 36, experienced under no circumstances ahead of executed with Jacobs or Bennink, two area players in their 20s who represented vastly various models on the jazz spectrum. Previously, the pair had backed up Johnny Griffin, Ben Webster, Wes Montgomery and other American jazz stars. But Rollins was their hero, and they were very well versed in the saxophonist’s sizeable oeuvre.

“Ruud Jacobs was the bass player of alternative for any person that arrived by way of Holland,” Rollins recalled. “I found out later on that Ruud played with Louis Armstrong. He had a single of these wonderful contrabasses created in Europe. The seem was so loaded and complete. I cherished Ruud’s enjoying, and I liked his audio.

“Han Bennink was identified as the extra avant-garde person,” Rollins ongoing. “I was told they experienced distinctive designs, but I didn’t consider about that at all, for the reason that I could engage in with both equally of them. And they both of those realized one thing about me. So, it was excellent to have them perform together. I was really joyful to have them there as my backup trio.”

It was a major job—heavy lifting, to say the least—to again up Rollins in that context.

“If I would go on phase with just a drummer and a bass participant, individuals men have to be extremely proficient,” the saxophonist reported. “The drummer has to be exceptional, and the bass player has to be exceptional, for the reason that they’re actively playing everybody else’s component that’s not there. Which is what I want to enjoy with a trio. I need to have a bass player that definitely is a bass player—somebody like Oscar Pettiford or Ray Brown, or Niels-Henning [Ørsted Pedersen] in Europe.

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