This show, recorded at New Paltz, NY on May 9, 1976, finds Rollins laying it down on top of a five-song set that runs from the sprawling (“Strode Road” clocks in at 11 minutes and change) to the economical (opening track “The Cutting Edge” is done in 5:32, which is the blink of an eye in jazz time). The mid-’70s were an interesting time for Rollins — after making a name for himself as one of the sharpest improvisational players in hard bop, he started dabbling in fusion here, predictably offending purists along the way.
A substantial portion of the jazz from this era hasn’t aged terribly well, and this isn’t the stuff most people think of when you say “Sonny Rollins” — but he did some interesting things during this period, and you can hear him moving in new directions here, feeling out the boundaries of his new sound with his band (particularly guitarist Aurell Ray). Check out this sample from the show, and then go download it from our pals at Wolfgang’s Vault — it’s the Deal of the Day today, which means you can have the whole thing for a measly four bucks. What are you waiting for?
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