Dec 21, 2009
Sonny Rollins is our greatest living tenor saxophone player, and at the age of 79, still going strong. It's only fitting that the Yule celebration include a classic track from one of Rollins' final RCA albums, "Winter Wonderland".
The Bridge, released in 1962, had re-established Rollins as an important performer after a three year hiatus. His favorite musical partners during this time were primarily guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Michey Roker and pianist Herbie Hancock. The Standard Sonny Rollins, recorded in the summer of 1964 and released the next year, is composed of - well, standards. The Gershwins, Cole Porter, and Johnny Mercer are represented as is this Christmas classic, written by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith.
This is a spare and winning version of the song, never lapsing into cliche. As expected, Sonny plays the barest bones of the melody, improvising gracefully and fully over a subtle piano by Hancock.