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Interviews

Sonny Rollins and David S. Ware: Sonny Meets David

By Published: October 21, 2005

DSW: This is what I get man, from the question, you know, democracy as it relate to music, is like when everybody has a chance give the band a direction, you know, this would be my idea. I mean like for example if we're playing, if I'm playing with the quartet and Matthew sets up something you know, that is spontaneous, if he sets it up then we'll go with it. I'll go with it, you know, or if if I point my finger to William, he can take it, he can play as long as he want. The only thing that I say as far as length of solos to try not to loose the form of the piece.

SR: I don't believe that the word "democracy" is the best word to use. I agree with you, you know. You don't want everybody doing what they particularly feel like doing, I can do that when I'm playing solo OK? But if I'm playing with a group and let's assume as your group or my group, if I'm playing with my group and you're playing with your group, you have to be the person that has the overall responsibility of keeping the focus on whatever you want that piece of music to go to. In that sense, democracy, I'm afraid of that word in that sense, democracy is good because everybody has an opportunity to play with you if they want to, then that's the democracy but once they become part of your group then they have to give up their selves for the good, the greater good of the music, you see what I mean?

DSW: You see what I mean ?

DSW: Yeah, yeah.

FM: Sonny, and what about the George Bush's democracy ?

SR: Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.... [laughs] David, tell Franck I have a toothache and I don't want to laugh, right ?

DSW: He says he got a toothache and he doesn't want to laugh too much right now... Yeah, that's a laughing matter, yeah man...

FM: What is really important when you are a saxophonist, this is your sound, your voice, your identity? Did you change a lot into your musical career, did you change your sound?

SR: Yeah, being you know, we're born on this planet and we're born as human animals. In other words, we have bodies and our bodies are our bodies are meant to survive a certain amount of time and space. So you have to—in my case, I won't speak for other people—but I have changed my sound over the years but lot of it has got to do with the fact that I'm operating out of a physical body. It's not iron and steel, it's flesh and bones so flesh and bone do not go on forever. And you know so over the many years that I've been playing, my physical sound has changed. And one of the reasons for why it has changed—there're other reasons, but one of the reasons is that human beings are flesh and bones and blood.

So your body changes, our bodies are not meant to be here for three hundred years, they are just here a few years on the planet. So as your question, sure, my sound has changed over the years and a lot of it has to do with the fact that as you grow older your body changes and you play a physical instrument like a horn, you have to adapt to the different ..... which that bring about...

DSW: You mention that we are flesh and bone and blood, and we are spiritual beings that occupies physical bodies.

SR: Right.

DSW: ...and you know and also what has to do with the sound is each one of us has a unique vibration you know certain sages say that, we are bundle of vibrations each and everyone of us is a unique bundle of vibrations and over time, well let me say this: that's really what produces the sound, that's projected out of the instrument. Cats have always asked, you know: "how did you develop your sound and so forth and so on? and I say, "you know, I never really worked on it, you know, that's just who I am that's where the sound comes from the sound comes from who you are spiritually, the vibrations, all, each and everyone of us is operating on our own vibrational plan, there are no two human beings that's operating on the same vibrational plan."

FM: Do you have the impression when you play the saxophone that you sing?

SR: Well, I like singers, I like vocalists, you know. I like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, and yeah, I'm sure that that comes out to a certain extent, but more probably so in other players than myself. I think other horn plays envision a vocalist probably.

DSW: I think more what is happening is that the soul, through the instrument... the soul is talking through the instrument. That's more what's happening man, the consciousness. The soul is the thing that's speaking. That's why, otherwise if both cats, say two musicians have the same exact instrument as much as possible, even though it's different metal, you know, then give them the same exact mouthpiece and everything, they sound different. They're gone sound different and that difference comes from the self, from who they are. It's clear to me.

FM: I think that Lester Young said that when he was playing, it is like for him, to tell a story.



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