Down Beat - 4.5 Stars - Very Good
JazzTimes (5/96, p.74) - "...a masterpiece. Drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison supplied the rhythmic floor and harmonic flexibility that allowed Rollins to roam at will. He added trumpeter Freddie Hubbard for the title track and produced a masterpiece....EAST BROADWAY RUNDOWN is an extraordinary item in his discography."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.100) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "The four jazz heavyweights circle each other like matadors in a bullfight, creating tensions that, when they lock together, hit creative highs that are well worth the journey."
Personnel: Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 9, 1966. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson.
For Sonny Rollins, the 1960s were a period of consolidation and revolution as he refined his own concepts and reacted to the flurry of events around him. In taking stock of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, Sonny formulated a series of fascinating responses, from the elegant, mainstream approach of THE BRIDGE to his free-form safaris into the underbrush of open-ended group improvisation with Don Cherry (ON THE OUTSIDE).
EAST BROADWAY RUNDOWN is the apotheosis of this period, one of Sonny Rollins most powerful recordings. Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones (late of Coltrane's band) fire each of these performances with an elemental energy. Meanwhile, the relaxed and extremely confident Sonny responds with some of his most charged improvisations, abstract and exploratory, yet lyrical and supremely bluesy.
The title tune begins with an angular, fragmented blues vamp. As Garrison and Jones lock into a multi-layered 4/4 groove, Rollins sculpts in space, lagging way behind the beat with heraldic recitatives and coy snippets of the theme, teasing Jones into one rhythmic climax after another in the manner of Monk and Lester Young. Freddie Hubbard responds to Rollins' thematic parries with fierce, bluesy counterpunches, and following free solo passages from Garrison and Jones, they proceed with free textural exchanges over a hypnotic rhythm vamp. After this epic romp, Sonny (sans Freddie) jumps headfirst into the ancestral blues figures of "Blessing In Disguise" with garrulous, preaching energy. "We Kiss In A Shadow" (from "The King And I") is among his most touching ballads, moving from a tender Afro-Cuban head to a slow grinding shuffle, as Sonny deconstructs the melody with rhapsodic elan.
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