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.