78th Birthday Celebration
Sonny Rollins, aka the Saxophone Colossus, turns 78 on September 7. Our multimedia celebration focuses on his fans, his web visitors, his greatest inspiration, Coleman Hawkins, and his extraordinary new recording, Road Shows, Vol. 1
In October of 1962, Sonny heard his idol, Coleman Hawkins, live at the Village Gate in New York's Greenwich Village. Moved by the performance, Sonny decided to express his feelings in words so he wrote a letter to Hawk.
A year later, they would record together on the immortal Sonny Meets Hawk, and play together at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Forty six years later, Sonny remembers writing the letter: "Coleman Hawkins, my musical idol, was more than a great tenor saxophonist. At a time when many Jazz stars were caught in the trap of alcoholism, drug addiction and the like, Coleman maintained a dignity befitting of who he was. My own father was a career Navy man who achieved the highest rank possible for those of his background and carried himself with great dignity and pride just like Coleman did. Hawk was a great role model for us young, aspiring musicians, who lived in his neighborhood and observed him regularly off stage. Long live Coleman Hawkins."
One of Sonny's fans, David Luebbert, has created a way to quickly animate solo transcriptions using music editing software. Mr. Luebbert writes: "Sonny Rollins recorded The Everywhere Calypso on July 27, 1972 for his album on Milestone Records entitled Sonny Rollins' Next Album. The album marked the end of a period of four years(1968-1972) during which Sonny retired from public performance and did not record.
This animation plays and shows you the music that Sonny invents during the first 3 minutes and 2 seconds of the performance, which consists of his 8 bar unaccompanied solo introduction, two repetitions of the 16 bar "Everywhere Calypso" melody, freely interpreted, and then 13 solo choruses by Sonny over the 8 bar calypso chord progression that was repeated twice during each rep of the main melody. He ends with a note held across the first measure of a 14th chorus to launch George Cables' piano solo."
Transcription from Solo Transcriptions: Sonny Rollins: For B Flat Tenor Saxophone
Animation: David Luebbert - SongTrellis
Before Sonny's 8/6/08 Central Park concert Bret Primack spoke with a number of enthusiastic Rollins supporters and produced this Podcast, Sonny's Fans.
Road Shows, Volume 1
On October 28, Doxy Records, distributed by Universal Music, will release Road Shows, Vol. 1, the first of what promises to be a number of live recordings taken from Sonny's concerts over the last three decades.
"Road Shows, Vol. 1 is one of the finest Sonny Rollins albums ever released. . . . In concert, a nearly irrational spontaneous magic is permissible. This record is full of such magic.”
Download Gary Giddins' liner notes (PDF file)
Listen to Excerpts from Sonny's new recording.
Sonny reads all Guestbook entries. But due to his busy schedule, he can't always respond. Last month, Sonny sat down and answered some entries:
Percussionist Mike Smith wrote
I was born & raised in New York & exposed to your playing & music in my early teens. I listened to your music & practiced to it as best I could. Even though at times the music was "way over my head". Suffice to say, I have been a fan for many years. I really enjoyed watching Clifton's video about his first introduction to u & the musical relationship u all have.
Some of it reminded me of my first time workin' w/Reggie Workman when I was just fresh out of College. Despite the years I had been playin' & studying...I was nervous as heck w/all these "monster" musicians around me...LOL! But, guess I did ok cause I worked w/him for over a year before I decided to move to L.A.
Sonny...as long as u keep doin' what u r doin', u know there r people that appreciate u, your art form, who are inspired from & by your music & gain from it. U r a true legend!
Chris O'Brien wrote
Sonny, I'd just like to say thanks for youe great music you've been making since before i was even thought of. Some people tell me Jazz is "dying out" or even "old peoples music." My only response is do you have emotion? Then Jazz is just right for you. I'm having fun transposing Tenor Madness. Keep it swingin, God Bless.
Preacher Tom, from Charlottesville, Virginia wrote
:D God bless you Sonny Rollins. He has given you long life and good health to play your lovely music. A host of your contemporaries have gone on, but you still play.
Joseph Peery, from the Royal Air Force in Mildenhall, UK wrote
I am a Jazz music and history enthusiast.
It is a shame in this day and time, the US has not embraced your talent and pure importance to this art as it should. I am an Air Force officer living in England for the past 16 yrs. I seem to be able to get ahold of all your great albulms of the past in Paris and Athens Greece more than the US. Keep it going, you are definitely being looked and taken care of from the one's whom have pass'd - Clifford Brown and Roach and Bird to mention of few. thanks for the time.
Don Thompson of Buttonwillow, CA wrote
At the beginning of this year, for some reason, I started listening to Clifford Brown, and when you showed up on some of the Roach cuts--I remembered! Rollins! That's what I need! I haven't listened to anyone else since, and it'll be awhile before I'm done. I pick up a CD or two every month.
I clearly remember seeing you play in a club in Bakersfield, California, around '57, when I was in high school. That seems impossible, but it must have been at the time of "Way Out West". I've looked through old boxes of mementos hoping to find the autographed napkin, but nope.
Right now, you're a major influence on my poetry. It would be hard to say just how that works, but I listen to you every day before writing, and I'm always asking myself, "Now how do you get that effect in words?"
Marek from Poland wrote:
Sonny, I bought a Tenor saxophone in Schenectedy, NY and I was told that you used to play on it could you please confirm or decline!!! Thats Selmer BA 1939 sn28887. All the best.
Alberto Duarte from Santiago, Chile wrote
according to your schedule, you will play on Brasil on October. It will be great if you come to Chile to visit your fans.
Greetings from Santiago,
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