Sonny Rollins / Don Cherry Quartet: Home, Sweet Home

Live 1962 NYC set comes from the sessions that produced Our Man In Jazz and has Bob Cranshaw on the electric bass, then rather rare in jazz


This glorious, beautifully recorded live music is essential for any Rollins or Cherry enthusiast. With Higgins and Cranshaw in surpassing form, it comes from the July 1962 sessions at New York’s Village Gate which furnished the cuts – Oleo, Dearly Beloved and Doxy – which made up the original Our Man In Jazz on RCA (the 2001 BMG reissue added You Are My Lucky Star, I Could Write A Book and There Will Never Be Another You with bassist Henry Grimes taking Cranshaw’s place on these pieces).

Our Man In Jazz has occasioned a fair amount of critical discussion, examined in the late Richard Palmer’s Sonny Rollins: The Cutting Edge. Taken in isolation, the side-long opening cut here, Rodgers and Hart’s Lover, might seem to substantiate the views of those who, while admiring Our Man In Jazz, felt but little sense of what Palmer calls “an authentic front-line partnership”. Delivered at a swinging medium-up clip, Lover is a tour-de-force for Rollins, with Cherry very much the background figure. However, the following Solitude and Home Sweet Home amply redress the balance as the two men join in shaping many a striking sequence of refigured melodic expression, dynamic variety and rhythmic accent.

Jan Garbarek volunteered to me recently that “Our Man In Jazz was a very important album to us jazzers here in Oslo in the early Sixties, and inspirational in the move into greater musical freedom.” In his Free Jazz (1974) Ekkehard Jost notes the special play of freedom and tradition in both Rollins and Cherry, as well as what Jost sees as the increasing assurance of the post-Coleman Quartet Cherry in music that evinces “the marks of a spontaneously evolving suite […] in a process of continuous interaction […] where the group attains a variety of structure only rarely encountered in the free jazz of the early Sixties.”

This handsomely packaged issue comes with a fine sleeve-note from Gareth Kingston – an abbreviated version of the text he supplied for the diversely swinging and blues-shot cornucopia that is the utterly superb, recently released six-CD boxed set Sonny Rollins Quartet with Don Cherry: Complete Live At The Village Gate 1962.

Lover (18.07)Solitude; Home, Sweet Home (22.58)
Rollins (ts); Cherry (c); Bob Cranshaw (elb); Billy Higgins (d). New York, 28 July 1962.
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