My music file storage and reproduction appliance (no product placement dollars have been offered to me, thus no brand names) has over 5000 songs on it. Switching on the “Shuffle Songs” mode allows me to experience music in a novel way as the segues as well as songs take on new colors and effects. The other day jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins’s version of “I’m an Old Cow Hand (from the Rio Grande)”came on reminding me of this wonderful 1957 trio (Ray Brown, bass and Shelly Manne,drums) long playing record(remember those?)Way Out West featuring an album cover Rollins standing in a desert with a cowboy hat and pistol holster, brandishing his tenor sax
Rollins who reached his eighth decade this fall has in his sixty years of music making made countless wonderful recordings ( my favorites— East Broadway Rundown, with The MJQ at the Music Inn, Live at the Village Vanguard and The Bridge) one of which, Saxophone Colossus, writer Bob Blumenthal and photographer John Abbott have chosen to title their collaborative tribute to the great jazzman, Saxophone Colossus , A Portrait if Sonny Rollins (Harry Abrams)
Blumenthal has provided five essays each title taken from five selections on the recording and Abbott has contributed 90 potent photos of the vividly photogenic Rollins, making this stirring account of as one journalist describes, “Rollins’s tumultuous journey from youthful miscreant to venerated statesman – via punishing routines, titanic gigs, heroin addiction and self-imposed exile from performance” a masterful homage to a prodigious and seminal American musical talent .