When critics speak of Sonny Fortune, names like Coltrane, Cannonball, Young, Bechet, Hawkins and Parker are mentioned. Quite a legacy - but well deserved - for Sonny Fortune embodies all of the finest qualities of those late, great musicians: hard work, dedication to his art, and exceptional music. Lucky for us, Sonny is still here and blowing hard.
Born in Philadelphia on May 19, 1939, he was 18 years old before deciding to pursue a career in jazz. In 1967 he moved to New York. Says the quiet, straight-talking Fortune of that move: "Eventually, in order to find out if you really have what it takes, you have to go to the center, and that's New York...you can only do so much in your hometown."
After a brief stint with Elvin Jones and Frank Foster, Fortune, an early admirer of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, joined Mongo Santamaria's group, with whom he remained for over 2 years