Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sonny Rollins

[The following short essay appeared in our local library's guide to jazz a few years ago. Someday I hope to write an essay on "Jazz Pedagogy," but that is another story.]

Sonny Rollins is no less than a living legend of jazz, with over fifty years of jazz artistry to his credit. Born in 1930 in New York, Rollins was a prodigy on the tenor saxophone, beginning his recording career at the age of 18. He quickly established himself by playing with the luminaries such as Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, J. J. Johnson, and Charlie Parker. Rollins is known for his rich tone, rhythmic sense, and brilliant improvisations—often inflected with humor. As a serious and self-critical artist, Rollins has never settled into cliches or allowed himself to be boxed in by his music. He is also an accomplished composer of works for small jazz groups, many of which have become jazz standards, such as “Oleo,” “St. Thomas,” and “Sonnymoon for Two.” While he prefers live settings to the studio, Rollins has recorded classic jazz albums such as “Saxophone Colossus” (1956) and “The Freedom Suite” (1958). He continues to record and tour, delighting audiences with his flights into the saxophonic stratosphere.

· Douglas Groothuis, philosopher, jazz fan, and patron of Koelbel Library (Centennial,


Andrew said...

I, for one, would like to hear more about your jazz pedagogy ideas.

john alan turner said...

As good as Coltrane is/was -- I always thought that if you could look into some kind of audio dictionary, under "tenor saxophone" would be Sonny Rollins' sound.

stc said...

I love Rollins' tone, but I also think he is a gifted songwriter. Bag's Groove may be my favourite Miles Davis disc. Most of the tracks were written by Rollins (including Oleo, which Mr. Groothuis rightly identifies as a classic).