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Sonny Rollins and David S. Ware: Sonny Meets David

By Published: October 21, 2005

SR: You explain it very well!.. That is the essence of true yogic philosophy. You know you do nothing. Now when I go out play at this stage of my life I am very much concerned that I am able to give to people and people get something out of it. It is not that I want to be successful in my career, I don't do that for that reason. But i want to make sure that I am serving a purpose and serving for the people to get something out of it because I don't need anything for me. So I am very careful these days when I am playing to try to make sure that's it's... I want looking carefully to see the other people are getting something out of it. Rather than me, of course, when I am playing I am always getting for myself of course. It's about serving a greater purpose.

DSW: That's what makes great music, great art, great anything when you have that sense. I mentioned to you that one time, that concert you did in 99 at the Lincoln Center. There was something, I don't know how you felt that night, but I've heard you play a whole lot of times from the '60s and this night... there was a sense about that night... I already told you man, it's like you were playing for the angels. You were playing for higher beings. I told the workshop today they are always there and they have great appreciation for things of higher spiritual nature that human beings are trying to do. You don't always sense these things....

SR: Well no, because, you know, I can always look back on my career and say well I had certain good nights, some were better than others. That's part of what we are trying to do and not only in music, it is part of anything on this earth plane, everything is not going to be on the highest level all the time. We are down there on earth, so there's time when we get to certain heights... Now I might have gotten there that night and.... you know...

DSW: This is interesting because I realize over the years that when we are playing we can't always be objective about what it is that we play. It is not until you listen back, then we say "OK, it's clear, but while you are playing....

SR: While you play there is not time to look back, to be objective, because you are doing it. It's just like people ask me: "what are you thinking of when you are playing?" I don't think about anything. I leave my mind free so it can do the playing. No you can't be objective. Now, right, when you listen back you say... But you know I feel that you are always trying to and this is where your motive is important , you have to have the proper motive about what you're playing, why you play, what you are doing. If you have that then you are always going to be trying to play the right thing and try to get there. And then, after you do that, then some nights you're gone get there and some nights you are not. As long as you go into it with the idea.

DSW: Let me ask you this man : Are there certain moments that you know that something very special happens?

SR: Well I have had certain...

DSW: You are aware of the music, the music totally transcends itself. As four or five or six musicians playing on the stage, it all comes together when music transcends the time and space. And then, when you listen back, you can hear it.

SR: Yeah....

DSW: You know, it comes together in a way that goes beyond music....

SR: Oh sure, oh yeah, I know there are such things, I know such things occur of course. And that's always our goal as long as we have proper initiative to play then that's the goal, that's what we experience when things get beyond, outside of this realm to the celestial place.

FM: About the improvisation: is it sometimes like an inner partition?

SR: The answer I usually have is that I try to practise certain rudiments and scales like I said to David before, circular breathing, I can refer to all of those things as rudiments, practise, I try then to make sure I have a certain amount of that. I do a certain amount of that and after doing that, when I go to perform, then I try to forget that because as I was just explaining to David, there is no time to think about that. It's time to think about it when you're practising, when I'm performing it's time just to go for the thing and there is no time to do anything else. I want my mind empty. I don't want to be thinking about anything, so that I can receive the vibrations and direction, I should say. And what helps me to do it is the fact that I try to make sure my rudiments and so far are done at home and so on. That's exactly what we mean by that.

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