Friday, July 24, 2009

After Hours

Leonard Cohen with Sonny Rollins. Who by Fire

Back in the eighties there was this odd music show on Sunday night/Monday morning on NBC. I believe it followed George Michael's Sports Machine. If I remember correctly, it was called simply Night Music and was co-hosted by, of all people, David Sanborn and Jools Holland. Their goal was to get performers from disparate genres to play together. This is probably the most successful pairing. Ask yourself this: under what circumstances would Cohen and Rollins ever play together? That was the great thing about the show. The downside is that you occasionally had to listen to David Sanborn and Jools Holland play. Don't get me wrong, they're both accomplished musicians. I just hate their music. OK, maybe Jools was OK when he was with Squeeze, but Sanborn - don't get me started. Anyhow, I saw this number when it was first broadcast way back when and it was completely mesmerizing. Cohen never blinks and Sonny is just relentless. You occasionally hear Sanborn squawk in the background, but the stage belongs to Sonny for long stretches of time. Just listen to the sounds he gets out of his horn. Several months before this was broadcast, I saw him play at Bumbershoot. He was so fantastic that I vowed to become a sax player then and there. Very long story short, I did, but I sound very different than what's going on here. For one thing, Sonny's better than I am. For another, I sound like I just stepped out of the forties. If it wasn't for Rollins, I wouldn't sound like anything because I wouldn't be playing the horn.

This performance has long been on my top ten list. I figured that it was lost forever, but thanks to the miracle of the YouTubes, here it is for all to enjoy.

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