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Sonny Rollins: Still Seeking the Lost Chord

By Published: January 13, 2009
Jazz and the Future

"All over the world, as you know, they still love it and everything," says Rollins of jazz music. "Here in America, it's still not pushed enough. So a lot of the guys that would be playing might be great guys, but they never get a chance to play or see where they could make it, become a star and all that stuff. So they don't go into it.

"So sure, jazz will never die. But jazz as a commodity, or the way they might try to codify jazz, who knows? Jazz is a music played with a pianist in a nightclub with people drinking alcohol and talking. That's jazz, some people think. But you and I know that's not jazz. That's a way that that type of music has been presented. It doesn't have anything to do with the music itself, you know what I mean?"

Its music heard in the best places, and sometimes in the worst. But always magical when done right, in goods times and bad.

Rollins, always worldly-wise and politically astute has lived through much in this country, good and bad. Like most of us, he's discouraged by the state of affairs in the United States, but not given to despair. "They're scaring the heck out of everybody with these dire predictions about the future. But, I'm a child of the Depression. I was a child. I had a happy childhood, but still I knew there was a Depression going on. I guess I survived it then, I can survive it now. Cut back on a lot of unnecessary junk that people have been doing anyway. Get down to basics. Nothing wrong with that. It's the spirit that counts."

That line could be applied to Rollins music, all through the years: It's the spirit that counts. The spirit flows through his heart, soul, mind and out of his golden horn.

That's not going to stop. Retirement?

"Not unless I get some kind of physical infirmity," says Rollins. "Other than that, no. I'm not interested in retiring yet because I'm still trying to get to my lost chord. I'm still hearing music that I can hear, but I'm not always able to produce it. So I'm still involved actively in trying to get that music out.

"I'm still involved in trying to create something that I think is attainable."

Selected Discography:

Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 1, (Emarcy/Doxy, 2008)

Sonny Rollins, Sonny Please, (Emarcy/Doxy, 2006)

Sonny Rollins, Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert, (Milestone , 2005)

Sonny Rollins, This Is What I Do, (Milestone, 2000)

Sonny Rollins, Global Warming, (Milestone, 1998)

Sonny Rollins, The Solo Album, (Milestone, 1985)

Sonny Rollins, Don't Stop the Carnival, (Milestone, 1978)

Sonny Rollins, Nucleus, (Milestone, 1975)

Sonny Rollins, East Broadway Rundown, (Impulse, 1966)

Sonny Rollins, Alfie, (Impulse, 1966)

Sonny Rollins, Sonny Meets Hawk, (RCA, 1963)

Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, (Bluebird, 1962)

Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard, (Blue Note, 1957)

Sonny Rollins, Way Out West, (Contemporary Records, 1957)

Thelonious Monk, Brilliant Corners, (Riverside, 1957)

Sonny Rollins, Tenor Madness, (Prestige, 1956)

Clifford Brown and Max Roach, At Basin Street, (Polygram, 1956)

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, (Prestige, 1956)

Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk/Sonny Rollins, (Prestige, 1954)

Miles Davis, Bags Groove, (Prestige, 1954)

Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins Quartet, (Prestige, 1951)

Miles Davis, Dig, (Prestige, 1951)

Bud Powell, The Amazing Bud Powell, (Blue Note, 1949)

Photo Credit

Featured: Jeff Wignall

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