Sonny Rollins at 83 – What Jazz Is

Sonny Rollins: What Jazz Is, and What Being a Jazz Musician Means To Me

Happy birthday Sonny Rollins!

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins.

Between 1959 and late `61 withdrew from public performance.
Sonny remembers that he took his leave of absence from the scene because “I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft. I felt I was getting too much, too soon, so I said, wait a minute, I’m going to do it my way. I wasn’t going to let people push me out there, so I could fall down. I wanted to get myself together, on my own. I used to practice on the Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge because I was living on the Lower East Side at the time.”

Listen to You Don’t Know What Love Is

Rollins remember Bud Powell <> <> <> Rollins on Buddhism

Today’s players are still dealing with Sonny Rollins’ contribution to the idiom, plundering his recordings for ideas and insights. He was one of the first to appropriate a West Indian heritage and music into mainstream jazz, which for me is very significant. His political consciousness and daring I also found inspiring – for example, recording The Freedom Suite in 1958 with Max Roach during the civil rights protests. He’s completely at one with his instrument. And few people have been able to make triplets and eighth-notes swing harder. (From the Guardian)

Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and Horace Silver are three great Virgo jazz musicians. Only Charlie Parker died young.

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