Sonny Rollins '74: Rescued! Arena


Sonny Rollins '74: Rescued!

Newly-discovered film footage of tenor sax legend Sonny Rollins at Ronnie Scott's in 1974, with a band featuring guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo and soprano saxophone player Rufus Harley.


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Transcript


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This is Jamie Cullum on BBC Radio 2 and I'm going to play you something

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you won't have heard before, unless you were at Ronnie Scott's in 1974.

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Why? Well, this has been hiding in someone's attic all these years.

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Here it is. This is the inimitable Sonny Rollins

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with Alfie, live at Ronnie Scott's in 1974.

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APPLAUSE

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JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS

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It was 38 years ago that the world's greatest saxophonist, then and now,

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played a stunning gig at Ronnie Scott's.

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That gig was filmed and was thought to be lost until Arena rescued it.

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The filming was done for a BBC arts magazine programme called Second House.

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Three of the best film cameramen of the time were assigned to the job.

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The director was a young arts producer called Alan Yentob.

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Whatever happened to him(?)

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And it featured a presenter who was new in front of the camera

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called Melvyn Bragg.

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Although this talented team filmed the whole Ronnie set

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and a lot more besides,

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only a fraction of three of the numbers appeared on Second House.

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This so pained the assistant film editor, Charles Chabot,

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that he stayed up all night, putting all the outtakes back together.

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Then he stuck the film cans in his attic.

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Fortunately, Charles also kept the quarter inch sound tapes

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and they've now been remastered to full digital stereo quality.

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In the 1970s, film cutting rooms

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only printed some of their rushes on colour stock.

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The rest was black and white.

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It's that copy that Charles kept in his attic.

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We thought both the black and white prints

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and the colour had a real period quality

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and it's this that has been lovingly restored

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by some clever BBC technicians.

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Sonny Rollins always had a soft spot for England.

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He was here in 1965, at the height of swinging London,

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when he wrote the theme for the 1966 Michael Caine film, Alfie,

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one of his most popular pieces.

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When he was in London, Sonny would drop into Bill Lewington's music shop in Shaftesbury Avenue.

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It's the same one, only it plays in C sharp only.

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Oh, it only plays in C sharp?

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-Well, I must try it and see.

-Try it.

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1974 caught Sonny Rollins at an interesting point

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in his personal and musical development.

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He'd just returned from a break from playing and recording

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and was full of fresh musical ideas.

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HE PLAYS JAZZ MUSIC

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This 1974 set contains some great examples of what Rollins does best -

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solo improvisations, where he weaves together

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disparate and unlikely material.

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The American Songbook, show tunes, novelty numbers, nursery rhymes.

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In one, I heard The Nearness Of You, That's Swell,

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

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and, I think, the theme to Toytown as well.

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The band Sonny Rollins brought to London in 1974

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was maybe a little funkier and more electric than his '60s bands.

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His parents were from the Virgin Islands,

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and Rollins was open to music from all over the world,

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incorporating it into his own playing.

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He now had an electric bassist, Bob Cranshaw.

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And a drummer, David Lee,

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who could've come straight from Earth, Wind & Fire.

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Following our world music thread,

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he had a blistering Japanese guitarist, Yoshiaki Masuo,

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who's here just referred to as Masuo.

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And then there was soprano saxophone player, Rufus Harley,

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who decided to master one of the world's most difficult instruments -

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certainly in a jazz context...

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HE PLAYS

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To achieve what he wanted,

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immersion in Highland culture had to be total - kilt, sporran and all.

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I think you'll enjoy this time capsule from 1974,

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rescued from the jaws of destruction.

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Sonny and his band are as hot as ever, but, for me,

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it's also a touching reminder of the Ronnie Scott Club in its pomp.

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Hosting the cream of the world's jazz talent,

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but with the added dimension of the man himself, Ronnie Scott,

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still introducing the acts personally,

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in his unique, avuncular, wisecracking style.

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..Masuo on the guitar,

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Rufus Harley on the soprano saxophone and the bagpipes,

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Bob Cranshaw on the bass and David Lee on the drums.

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A very warm welcome to the great Sonny Rollins.

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APPLAUSE

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THEY PLAY

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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HE PLAYS SOLO

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REST OF BAND BEGINS TO PLAY

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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SAXOPHONE PLAYS

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BAGPIPES JOIN IN

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TUNE OF TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR ON BAGPIPES

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SAXOPHONE ACCOMPANIES, FUNKY TUNE KICKS IN

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PIPES DOMINATE TUNE OF SWEET CHARIOT

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FUNKY INSTRUMENTAL BAGPIPES/SAXOPHONE VERSION OF SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT

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MUSIC SLOWS TO END

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APPLAUSE

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Thank you very much.

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Masuo on guitar.

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APPLAUSE

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Rufus Harley, bagpipes.

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APPLAUSE

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David Lee is our drummer. David Lee.

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APPLAUSE

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And Melbourne Cranshaw on bass.

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APPLAUSE

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SAXOPHONE RESTARTS

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JAZZY SAX SOLO

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BAND GENTLY JOIN IN

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SAXOPHONE SOLO

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GUITAR GENTLY ACCOMPANIES

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BACK TO SAX SOLO

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APPLAUSE AND WHISTLING

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE AND WHISTLING

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APPLAUSE

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-More!

-More!

-More!

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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RONNIE SCOTT: Sonny Rollins, ladies and gentlemen.

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Sonny Rollins.

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-More!

-Moooore!

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Bob Cranshaw on the bass, Masuo on the guitar,

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Rufus Harley, soprano saxophone and bagpipes

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and David Lee on the drums.

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APPLAUSE CONTINUES

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Sonny Rollins, ladies and gentlemen.

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-More!

-More!

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Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

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Mr Sonny Rollins and the quintet.

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It's all over, of course, you have yourselves a good night.

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If you feel like coming down here again, they're here until Saturday

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and starting on Monday,

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Brian Auger and Oblivion Express, whoever they are,

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will be in the club, here for a couple of weeks

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and then Horace Silver and his quintet will be back in the club

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and later in the year Ella Fitzgerald will be back,

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so will Oscar Peterson and the trio

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and Dizzy Gillespie will be here with a quintet and also Roland Kirk.

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CHEERING

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-Thank you, Mrs Kirk!

-Get back on!

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Featuring a specially-shot introduction with Jamie Cullum, Arena presents a lost treasure - Sonny Rollins performing at Ronnie Scott's in 1974. After nearly 40 years unseen, this unique film shows a spellbinding performance from arguably the greatest saxophone player in the world. Having played alongside Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, Rollins is one of the few surviving jazz greats. This gig captures him after his 1972 comeback when his bands started to sound funkier and to use electric guitar and bass. The band for this 1974 set features Japanese guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo and soprano saxophone player Rufus Harley, who doubles on the bagpipes.


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