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Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins is an NEA Jazz Master

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he puts it, “when the red light comes on.” And his perfectionism makes it difficult, sometimes painfully so, to go through multiple takes in search of what he thinks is the least flawed one.

But in Rollins’s preferred element—on stage, in front of an adoring crowd, free to follow his every impulse and dazzle with his inventions—he is fully at home. And that’s not just because in those situations this iconic tenor saxophonist is unencumbered by time restraints and issues in the control booth. The best thing about performing for him, by far, is seeing how happy his playing makes all the excited people who turn out to see him. The next best thing is making some of those performances—ones “that present parts of me I want to have presented”—available on record to his fans. With the expert help of longtime associate Richard Corsello, his engineer at Fantasy during the 1980s, that’s what Rollins has been doing with his remarkable Road Shows series, an ongoing collection of concert highlights being released on his own Doxy Records label. Road Shows, vol. 1, which came out in 2008, was largely drawn from superfan Carl Smith’s tapes, spanning nearly 30 years. It climaxed with a 2007 performance of “Some Enchanted Evening” by a trio for the ages featuring Roy Haynes and Christian McBride. All of the music on the second volume, released in 2011, was recorded in 2010, including highlights from Rollins’s 80th birthday concert, featuring his first-ever encounter with Ornette Coleman. Road Shows, vol. 3—which is being distributed under the terms of a new agreement by Sony Music Masterworks through its revived jazz imprint, OKeh Records—was recorded between 2001 and 2012 in Saitama, Japan; Toulouse, Marseille, and Marciac, France; and St. Louis, Missouri. It features a familiar core band including pianist Stephen Scott, trombonist Clifton Anderson, and Rollins's bassist of a half-century, Bob Cranshaw, with Bobby Broom and Peter Bernstein alternating on guitar; Kobie Watkins, Perry Wilson, Steve Jordan, or Victor Lewis on drums; and Kimati Dinizulu or Sammy Figueroa on percussion.

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Album Review

Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners

Read "Brilliant Corners" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


Writing about being “lost for words" is not the ideal way of starting a review, but it may be the plain truth. Perhaps Thelonious Monk is an acquired taste. Perhaps not. Whatever the case, this particular release of Brilliant Corners is just that--brilliant.The whole package is superb and really defines Craft Recordings “Small Batch" vinyl series. The technical literature accompanying the recording says “Each edition is cut from its original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman and pressed on ...

18
Album Review

Sonny Rollins: Go West! The Contemporary Records Albums

Read "Go West! The Contemporary Records Albums" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


Apparently, the median age of a jazz listener is in his or her mid to late 40s. So, perhaps, the representative listener was born in the mid-1970s. Sonny Rollins first recorded in 1949. The recordings reviewed here were made in the late 1950s, well before many contemporary listeners were born. While there have been ample reissues of Rollins' work, most coincided with the still-active phase of his career. Much of his work has appeared since “Skylark" on The Next Album ...

3
Book Review

Decades of Worldwide Promotion By the Man in the Room

Read "Decades of Worldwide Promotion By the Man in the Room" reviewed by Arthur R George


A Life In Music Wulf Müller 384 Pages ISBN: # 9798353190752 Amazon Direct Publishing2022 Working in Europe and facilitating jazz internationally, Wulf Müller reveals himself in his autobiography A Life in Music (Amazon Direct Publishing, 2022) as a man who for 40 years was in the rooms where it happened. That was true even by long distance phone call, as with Sonny Rollins who held Müller on the line while the saxophonist ...

9
Book Excerpts

Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins

Read "Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins" reviewed by Aidan Levy


The following is an excerpt from Chapter 23 “The Bridge" from Aidan Levy's Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins (Hachette Books, 2023). On September 7, 1960, Sonny turned thirty. The next day, he recorded his thoughts on the milestone in his journal. “Birthday now past but tendencies toward disruption still exist," he wrote. It seems he violated his strict diet and succumbed to the urge for a cigarette. “By the very documenting of these ...

15
Book Review

Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins

Read "Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins" reviewed by Ian Patterson


Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins Aidan Levy 784 Pages ISBN: 978-0306902796 Hachette Books 2023 A colossal book for a colossal musician. Aidan Levy's biography of Sonny Rollins runs to over 700 pages, not including the no less remarkable notes, available as a separate 416-page download. That the original manuscript was trimmed down from twice the length indicates just how ambitious and comprehensive this portrait is, and how astutely the ...

4
Radio & Podcasts

Feel Good Music Show

Read "Feel Good Music Show" reviewed by David Brown


It's New Year's Eve here on the Jazz Continuum. Weather you're getting gussied up to go out, or laying low for the evening, we're here to present an evening of Feel-Good Music to keep you company. Playlist Thelonious Monk “Esistrophy (Theme)" from Live at the It Club-Complete (Columbia) 00:30 Terry Pollard “Scrapple From The Apple" from A Detroit Jazz Legend (Fresh Sound Records) 02:15 Yusef Lateef “Eastern Market" from Yusef Lateef's Detroit (Collectables) 07:26 Gunter Baby Sommer ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Pianoless Trios: Sonny Rollins to Ballister

Read "Pianoless Trios: Sonny Rollins to Ballister" reviewed by David Brown


Sonny Rollins is famous for the pianoless trio. He said the lack of chordal instruments gave him more freedom for soloing. Tonight, a smorgasbord of trios sans pianos. Offering lots of space for soloists and collective interplay. Note: Due to a loose board plug, songs two and three play in mono. The issue was resolved during the Ballister track. Adventures in live broadcasting. Playlist Sonny Rollins “A Night in Tunisa" from A Night at the Village Vanguard (Manhattan ...

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1

Recording

Dazzling Live Sides By Sonny Rollins Receive First Authorized Release On Resonance's Record Store Day Offering 'Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings'

Dazzling Live Sides By Sonny Rollins Receive First Authorized Release On Resonance's Record Store Day Offering 'Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings'

Source: Terri Hinte Publicity

Resonance Records, the award-winning home of archival jazz treasures, will proudly present a new, fully authorized live collection by tenor master Sonny Rollins, Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings, as a limited edition four-LP set on Record Store Day, April 20. Never before issued as a legitimate release, these much-bootlegged sides—which feature Rollins, at the height of his early powers, with bassist Henry Grimes and drummers Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, and Joe Harris—will subsequently reach stores as a ...

Recording

Backgrounder: Sonny Rollins Plus 4

Backgrounder: Sonny Rollins Plus 4

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

The sound of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet on their studio recordings for EmArcy starting in 1954 was unmistakable. Trumpeter Brown's pointed and lyrical blowing combined with Roach's restless drums and the deliberate sound of Harold Land's tenor saxophone poured the foundation for a new daring and elegant form of hard bop. By 1956, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins had replaced Land. He did so after turning down Miles Davis's offer to join his quintet (John Coltrane would take the job). ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sonny Rollins' birthday today!

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he ...

1

Video / DVD

Backgrounder: Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird, 1957

Backgrounder: Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird, 1957

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Sonny Rollins idolized Charlie Parker, as did all saxophonists in the late 1940s. But for Sonny, Parker was more of a mentor, someone to impress and seek his approval. Sonny achieved that in 1953, when he recorded with Parker and Miles Davis for Prestige. At the time, Parker was under contract to Norman Granz's Norgran label, so he recorded on tenor saxophone instead of alto and was listed as Charlie Chan on the session and recording. Parker would die two ...

Book / Magazine

Sonny Rollins: Bret Primack and Aidan Levy

Sonny Rollins: Bret Primack and Aidan Levy

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

In December, Aidan Levy published Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins (Hachette), a 784-page biography of the tenor saxophonist. Recently, Bret Primack, who interviewed Sonny on camera at length over the years, interviewed Levy on a range of Sonny-related topics: Here's Bret and Aidan on Coleman Hawkins... Here's Bret and Aidan on Don Byas's influence on Sonny... Here's Bret and Aidan on the relationship between Sonny and Thelonious Monk... And here's the rest of the interview... Bonus: ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sonny Rollins' birthday today!

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he ...

Video / DVD

Video: Sonny Rollins in Paris 1965

Video: Sonny Rollins in Paris 1965

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

In late 1965, Sonny Rollins was on tour in Europe and Scandinavia. At the Paris Jazz Festival on Thursday, November 4, he was on stage, backed by French bassist Gilbert Rovere and American expatriate drummer Art Taylor. Also appearing at the festival were Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans with Lee Konitz, Art Blakey's New Jazz Men, Dakota Staton, the Teddy Wilson Trio and the Gerry Mulligan All-Stars. A special thanks to Carl Woideck for sending along a link to this terrific ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sonny Rollins' birthday today!

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he ...

1

Recording

Sonny Rollins: In Holland, 1967

Sonny Rollins: In Holland, 1967

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

In 1967, Sonny Rollins was restless. Everything in the U.S. was changing fast. As an artist, Sonny was changing, too. Just as he had was reaching the apex of his playing prowess, jazz seemed to be sliding as a valued art form at home. To find truth, Sonny toured extensively in Europe, particularly Scandinavia and the Netherlands. There, he found emotionally open fans who understood his history and fully accepted his art and heritage. Back in the U.S., what seemed ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sonny Rollins

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sonny Rollins' birthday today!

It’s no state secret that Sonny Rollins has never been fond of the recording studio. Never mind that he’s recorded his full share of gems there—not only early, celebrated albums such as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, but also digital-era efforts such as Old Flames and This Is What I Do. The man often embraced as the greatest living improviser requires too much creative freedom to start playing, as he ...

Ben Bishop
guitar, electric
Dennis Mitcheltree
saxophone, tenor
Michael Adkins
saxophone
Richard Oppenheim
saxophone, alto
Russ Nolan
saxophone, tenor
Ada Rovatti
saxophone
Albert Rivera
saxophone, tenor
Don Braden
saxophone, tenor
Aaron Bennett
saxophone
Jorge Sylvester
saxophone, alto
Chuck Israels
bass, acoustic
Jackie McLean
saxophone, alto
Greg Osby
saxophone
Francis Wong
saxophone, tenor
Ike Levin
saxophone, tenor
Ted Hogarth
saxophone, baritone
Ben Britton
saxophone
Fred Haas
saxophone
Cold Spring Jazz Quartet
band / ensemble / orchestra
Phil Scarff
saxophone, tenor
Fredrik Lundin
woodwinds
Scott Reeves
trombone
Martin Uherek
saxophone, tenor
Gregory Dudzienski
saxophone, tenor
Michael Blicher
saxophone
Chris Gale
saxophone, tenor
Dan Wilensky
saxophone
Sue Orfield
saxophone, tenor
Louie Belogenis
saxophone
Iman Spaargaren
saxophone, tenor
Laurent Doumont
saxophone
Charlie Jennison
saxophone, alto
Johnny Padilla
saxophone
Ben Bryden
saxophone
Dan Miller
trumpet
Carl Clements
saxophone
Zhenya Strigalev
saxophone, alto
Chris Engel
saxophone, alto
Aldo Salvent
saxophone, tenor
Roy Futaba
saxophone, tenor
Nat Steele
vibraphone
Chris Pitts
saxophone, tenor
Julian Nicholas
saxophone, tenor
Julian Hartwell
keyboards
Neil Brathwaite
saxophone, tenor
Katy Jungmann
saxophone
Wesley Crispus
saxophone
Chris Rand
saxophone
Jon Bentley
saxophone, tenor
Allison Au
saxophone, alto
Ryan Baker
vocals
Jason Kush
saxophone
Filippo Bianchini
saxophone, tenor
Robert Dunn
guitar, acoustic
Ulli Juenemann
saxophone, alto
Dom Franks
saxophone, tenor
Ed Harlow
saxophone
Harrison Argatoff
saxophone, tenor
Boaz Marva
guitar
Tal Klein
piano
Richard Pavlidis
saxophone, tenor
TuneTown
band / ensemble / orchestra
Eyal Netzer
saxophone
Bill Hauser
saxophone, tenor
Muhammad Dawjee
saxophone
Mark R DeJong
saxophone
Itay Goldberg
saxophone, tenor
Mike Schwebke
multi-instrumentalist
Claudio Rubio
saxophone, tenor
Jackson Cotugno
saxophone, tenor
Hard Bop Messengers
band / ensemble / orchestra
Jacob Chung
saxophone, tenor
Funk Elastic
band / ensemble / orchestra
David Cain
multi-instrumentalist
Eric Mullins
saxophone, tenor
Chris Torkewitz
saxophone, tenor
Brian Sacco
saxophone
Rohan Buch
saxophone
Jeremy Terry
saxophone
Eli Hershiser
saxophone
Dave Salvator
saxophone
Tyler Levy Sniff
saxophone, tenor
Gus Leighton
saxophone
Dom Pusey
saxophone, tenor
Anthony Bruno
saxophone

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Freedom Weaver: The...

Resonance Records
2024

buy

Go West! The...

Craft Recordings
2023

buy

Brilliant Corners

Craft Recordings
2023

buy

Brilliant Corners

Craft Recordings
2023

buy

Rollins in Holland

Resonance Records
2020

buy

Way Out West

Craft Recordings
2018

buy

Videos

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