Sunday, 8 November 2009

Chess Autumn (*)

By 1959 New Yorker saxophonist Sonny Rollins, frustrated with what he perceived as his own musical limitations, took what would become the first and most famous of his musical sabbaticals, in order to improve his technique.

During this period Rollins, a resident from Manhattan's Lower East Side, would go to the nearby Williamsburg Bridge, in order to spare a young pregnant neighbour of his the sound of his practice routine.

His comeback album, published three years later, was named "The Bridge". The mythical sight of a lonely saxophone player on a bridge, playing by himself, his dark silhouette over the Moon, is Rollins's.


Sonny Rollins - Without a song, from the album "The Bridge"

Tonight we've been lucky enough to listen to Sonny Rollins live. He has been welcomed by standing ovations even before saying a single word. At 79, the elderly man standing on stage, looking frail and walking with a stoop, has just needed to take his tenor saxophone in his gigantic hands and got two notes from it to make clear that we were in front of a true jazz legend. An experience that will be surely hard to forget.

(*) At least, that's what I understood on my first Autumn living in Salzburg. Someone told me about this great "Chess Herbst" festival, which should be worth attending to. At first I imagined people playing chess all over town. It took me some minutes to realise I was being confronted with the native pronunciation for the word jazz. German speakers tend to close a too much (they don't know about the schwa and the very subtle nuances of neutral vowels) and do not seem to be able to distinguish between the sounds /dʒ/ (as in job or jazz) and /tʃ/ (as in chop or chess).

1 comment:

Gitta said...

Ja ja ,oesterreichisch is schwa :-)

Aber es gibt kein Land der Welt das seine pronunciation seiner Worte besser zu interpredieren weiss........Ich hoffe Du konntest so einen richtigen cheeessabend geniessen...:-)LG.G.