Sonny Is The Dance!
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 01/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over the course of the late 70's Sonny Rollins had been utilizing electric instruments and influences of period R&B and funk in his music along with the usual Caribbean influence,all with varying results in albums that sometimes leaned one way or the other or were just right. Considering how the somewhat unevenLove at First Sight went for a far softer approch Sonny had enough cool down time to get him back to his typically energized self. It's no wonder why the photo of of him on the cover looks so awake and alive. For one Sonny has a new arrival in his current quintet in Bobby Broom,a newcomer completely out of the Wes Montgomery/George Benson school of jazz guitarists whose since become a fine bandleader and even music critic on his own. Also bring back Tony Williams to the drumkit and one of the hottest vibesmen to come along in the 60's and 70's Bobby Hutcherson and you've got a winning combo on both ends. This album doesn't variate incredibly from the general musical approch of the album Easy Living and Don't Ask in a lot of ways. The main different here is that slow songs are not heavily emphasized.In fact there's only one in the short n sweet "Illusions". The first four cuts,including the lilting title song really showcase that strong calypso rhythm Sonny always had in his music and also showcase Bob Crenshaw's interest in getting a fretless sound on his electric bass,or at least it SOUNDS like that's what he's doing for. When he's playing everyone else,even Sonny himself are riding his wave all the way. The brill building standard "Here You Come Again" is given that full band disco/funk rhythm again that spins off into another calypso rhythm again. "Jo Jo" gives Tony Williamns a real chance to shine as his drumming gets a great workout too. The bouncy "Coconut Bread" and "Penny Saved" two more strong cuts that only find that electric calypso/funk/hard-bop sound getting more and more biting and intense. The closer "Joyous Lake" is one of Rollins' most powerful originals while he was integrating the disco-funk concept into his own style and some of the breaks where Tony Williams plays are so compulsive you just end up waiting for the second part. It cuts off very abruptly but honestly the song is really too hot for any outro:it just had to come to an end before the musicians ruptured themselves. As with a lot of Sonny Rollins 70's and 80's output this album kind of got slept on but alone in terms of the fact this album proves once and for all that straight ahead jazz can be dancable AND electric without sacrificing musicians talents,as well as among other things this album is really vital to his catalog."