Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Bridge

Listening to Sonny Rollins’ 1962 album The Bridge… I’m in a New York state of mind this morning, prompted by Rollins’ great album which is irrevocably tied to one of the best stories in the annals of jazz. Around 1959 Rollins turned his back on a successful recording career and took a 2-year sabbatical to practice his tenor. Unable to play his horn in his Lower East Side apartment for fear of disturbing his neighbors, Rollins found a spot on the Williamsburg Bridge, and there, looming 135 feet above the East River, with a panoramic view of the city, honed his skills. “I would be up there 15 or 16 hours at a time spring, summer, fall and winter”. February of 1962 saw Rollins return to the studio to cut some tunes that would be released later that year as The Bridge, named in honor of Rollins’ 2-year solo session.

My copy of the album is the 2010 Columbia edition which sounds fantastic but is disappointing in one respect – contrary to Columbia’s usual practice of augmenting their jazz releases with excellent liner notes, the booklet contains nothing of Rollins’ extraordinary journey to The Bridge. In fact I wasn’t aware of Rollins’ stint on the Williamsburg Bridge before I saw the excellent Beyond the Notes documentary on the great man just last year. Thinking about Rollins on the bridge, I wish there was a recording of him playing accompanied by the roar of the city, his tenor meshing with the sounds of traffic from passing cars, subway trains and boats. Perhaps one day when New York summons me back, I shall take a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge with Sonny Rollins’ album on the ipod…

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