This is where you can leave your comments, questions, and more for Sonny. He reads everything that appears here, but cannot promise to respond .
Hi Sonny, I’d have like million things to say to you, but I try to keep this short.
I cannot ever thank you enough for music you have offered for us. As a tenor saxophonist myself, your music has great influence on my playing. I also admire your thoughts about living happy and healty life. Money shouldn’t make anyone happy, happiness comes from more important things, like music. One of my biggest dreams is to see you performing live, I had ticket for your last years concert in North sea jazz festival and I was really dissapointed when I heard it was cancelled. Hope you still have enough strength and healthiness to have concert in Europe soon.
Anyway thank you for reading, take care and keep blowing!
Dear Sonny i hope i can see you some day in Argentina, please come and visit us.
Dear Sonny Rollins,
My daughter Abigail is a huge fan of yours. She loves to listen to your music. I was hoping to give her your autograph for her college graduation from UC Davis June 2015. It would mean so much to her to have your best wishes, thank you so much for all you time, talent, and passion.
2215 Geary Drive,
Santa Rosa, CA
I am a tenth grade student in Ridgefield Connecticut, not far from where you live. My goal for the last two years was to play in our exclusive small Jazz Band at my High School and this year that happened for me. Every day I listen to Jazz and I am always blown away by your works, my favorite is Decision. I listen to it almost every night and aspire to play like you some day.
If I had a bucket list, one of the items on the list would to be to meet you if you would be open to that. You are a legend and it would be an honor to meet you just to shake your hand. I hope to hear from you.
You likely don’t remember this, but I, along with my girlfriend at the time, saw you at the Vanguard one night in 1973 (I’d just turned 21). It was a very intense concert and there was a tremendous amount of eye-contact with you. About six weeks later, I ran into you at Rayburn Music in Boston (I was buying my first classical guitar) and you not only remembered me, but perfectly described the woman I was with!
I was a fan long before and have enjoyed your music since, but that was one of the most intense and profound music-listening experiences I’ve been blessed with.
Thank you for the pleasure and the insights through music you’ve shared over all these years,
P.S. Sorry for the multiple websites, but I work in images (photography), music (guitars) and spirit (rabbinic site). It’s a way to share back with you.
dear mr. rollins: My name is terrie and I hope you can help. My father was George Morrow and my mother Glenine Cramer. I was wondering if you had any info on George, any footage of him playing. My mother passed away in 1972 and I only got to meet my father a few times before her passing. I recently found out he has also passed(1992). Any info and/or film footage would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, sir, for your time. God Bless. Sincerely, Terrie Cramer.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
I appreciate the music you have created and shared with world over your stellar career. Among the many albums you’ve created among my favorites “Rollins Plays for Bird”, “Alfie”, “Bags Groove”, “Max Roach +4”, “and my favorite “Jazz Contrasts”, with my dad Kenny Dorham.
I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Primack in 2013 and expressed my wish to be in touch and say hello.
Maybe in the near future we will have a chance to say hello.
Peace in jazz,
We’re interested in knowing availability&fees for Sonny Rollins for the 26 Teatro Libre Jazz Festival, Sept. 3-6, 2014.
I was so touched by the comment left by the 10th grade high school student above. I was just about that age when I discovered jazz and “A Night at the Village Vanguard” was one of the first albums I ever owned. Flash forward a few years, I’m a college student in NYC and you come back from a sabbatical to play the Vanguard–don’t remember the guys you had in your band except for the late Walter Booker on bass. My first exposure to live Rollins, and an unforgettable performance that I still remember well over 40 years later. I’ve seen you many times over the years and you never fail to “lift the bandstand” in Monk’s unforgettable phrase. You are a great American and may you be with us in good health for many more years.
Bill Beran, Norwalk, Connecticut
Sonny! Help! I had a stroke, affected my right side. I gave up waiting and started teaching myself the sax anyway, but my little finger especially has no feeling. Can you suggest any way to play a low e flat without the little finger? I try Donna Lee every day and beyond the lack of speed and other mechanics, I cannot get feeling without that e flat. I listen to all your stuff, from then to now-ish, and if anybody has mastered every possible way to a make a sound on the sax, it is you.
By the way, I find your playing is very inspiring, pop to free, you sound like you really make a true bond of playing from the soul/gut and thought/brain. I can barely wait for Road Show 3.
Thanks for this site.
Dear Mr. Rollins, Thank you so much for your music. Hearing “Mambo Bounce” for the first time was a huge musical milestone in my life…comparable to hearing Beethoven’s 9th, Verdi’s “Requiem,” Straviinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” Ellington, Billie Holiday, Davis’s Kinda Blue album, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s album, and Philip Glass. I have never had the chance to see you play, but hope you play the Kansas City area soon so I can have the privilege.
Hi Sonny.Hope you are doing well.
I just want to know when you are planning to play at a NYC venue ?.I have never saw you live and its my dream to do so.I live on Long Island and also willing to travel to other states in the tri-state area.Sonny please !!
Mi estimado y admirado Sonny Rollins,
En el programa de radio que transmito en mi ciudad, Querétaro, Qro. México, he pasado muchos de sus discos generados con su gran talento y el de los músicos que lo acompañaron.
El próximo 1 de mayo el programa cumplirá 31 años al aire y en esos 31 años usted ha estado presente. Por tal motivo, el sábado 3 de mayo proyectaremos el DVD con sus grabaciones en vivo de 1965 y 1968 en su gira por Dinamarca junto a Alan Dawson, Kenny Drew y Niels Pedersen.
El aporte que usted ha dado al jazz es invaluable. Me congratula el reconocimiento que le fue dado en el Kennedy Center.
Espero que alguno de sus colaboradores le comparta mi mensaje en inglés.
Le reitero mi más grande admiración.
Gracias por su música y Dios le bendiga.
Sinceramente, David Balderas
Hello Mr. Rollins,
I have read that you have some health problems relating to your lungs and cannot perform. I also read an interview that said you moved to Woodstock, NY. I once wrote you about a very special healthy type of water called Kangen water. I have a friend in Woodstock who would be glad to give you some of this water to drink for a while, so you could see the effects of it. This is water made by a medical device from Japan, that has been used in hospitals there for over 35 years and there are many studies on it. I really hope and believe it could benefit your health.
If you are interested in more info on it, please visit http://www.kangen1usa.com and also feel free to contact me at 917 509 3256 or by email.
All the best,
I want to thank you for the great music you have bestowed on this Earth. I am a saxophone major studying jazz performance, and I listen to your albums (specifically A Night at the Village Vanguard) very frequently. I hope someday to get a chance to see you play live, and hopefully at some point get a chance to meet you!
I just want to let you know that you are a wonderful inspiration to me. After losing my partner a couple of years ago, I have decided to become a full time hermit and play my saxophone more seriously than ever. I have let go of other interests and endeavours to focus on one of the things I love the best. Unlike so many technically advanced players, you move me with your playing.
Lots of love to you and all the best.
Hi Sonny, I hope you feeling good. I´m a great fan of your music and I have all your CDs and many LPs but no autographed LP or CD. How can I get an autographed CD or LP. Happy Easter, all the best to you and many greetings from Gunter.
I hope you’re well and still full of life. Can you say if you will be touring again soon, either worldwide or in America?
GREETINGS TO THE GREAT SONNY ROLLINS
DON’T KNOW YOU PERSONALLY BUT I CAN NOTSAY ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR PLAYING . I AM FROM CINCINNATI ,OHIO AND HAVE A GRANDFATHER(FROM THE BRONX) AND HE STILL PLAYS JAZZ DRUMS NOW WELL INTO HIS EIGHTIES. HIS CLAIM TO FAME IS PLAYING WITH BUDDY JOHNSON AND ROY MERRIWEATHER AMOUNG OTHERS. WHILE ON THE ROAD AND IN NEW YORK HE REMEMBERS YOU WELL.
I ALSO HAVE AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT A GROUP FROM CINCINNATI IN THE 1950’S NAMED THE 511 PENITENTIARY BAND WITH A ALTO SAX PLAYER NAMED LOGAN ROLLINS.I BELIEVE LOGAN ROLLINS WAS A FAMILY MEMBER. HE ALSO PRODUCED AND PLAYED GREAT MUSIC IN THE CINCINNATI AREA.
A PARTNER AND MYSELF WE HAVE A JAZZ SHOW EVERY SUNDAY 8-10 PM( SUNDAY EVENING JAZZ FROM THE INSIDE) http://WWW.WAIF88.3FM.
TUNE IN IF YOU CAN!
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
THANKS FOR BEIN YOU
I’ve been lucky to have seen you play a number of times, especially one memorable cutting contest with Branford Marsalis. I first heard you play in 1980 while working at the NPR jazz station in Buffalo. Your “God Bless the Child” won’t be forgotten.
Speaking of children, mine are ages 11 and 9. They are solid jazz fans and fans of you (and Ben Webster) in particular. We have it in our hearts that you will play in New York City again and that they can see you. I will do everything I can to make sure they will be there when the chance comes.
Thank you for all you have given us. I hope this note finds you happy and comfortable.
A very warm ,gentle hug from UK !
No news of any UK visit or gig in the foreseeable future……….
Just wondering if anything is in the planning ?
Sad as I was that you were unable to perform last year in Saint Louis, I wish you the best in regaining your strength so that I might have the opportunity to see you play. I’m a jazz musician myself and my friend and I deeply admire your music, in fact, one of my favorite songs to jam on is your composition “Doxy”.
Never forget your performance in 1983 at the Museum of Modern Art’s Summergarden concert series — my first internship in High School — what an amazing thing to see you improvise with the sounds of NYC cabs outside the walls of the venue. I hop to see you perform again soon.
Hi Sonny, just want to say that I have been a huge fan for years, keep on keepin on ! I also understand you are a neighbor right down the road from my place in Woodstock, so welcome ! As the title say’s it all ” There Will Never Be Another You ” Keep it up.
As I listen to your NPR interview, I’m reminded of how often my mother, Mutasha Muhammad (aka Annette Bobo), spoke of and played your work! She made music an integral part of my life and I’ve passed the lesson on to my children, who both play piano and are familiar with violin, flute, clarinet, and ukelele!
Just thinking about you. Hope you’re well and we love and miss you very much.
I am a young 56 and am following a dream to learn the tenor sax. Your music is an inspiration to learn and enjoy the sax. Thanks
My dream to play tenor sax like you never happened. When I got my first job after college I purchased a Selmer Mark VI because I had always played alto sax but dreamed of playing tenor sax. That was back in the 1970’s and my career direction never allowed me to pursue that dream. So now I am moving toward retirement and still have my Selmer Mark VI which needs a new home. I effectively never used this instrument……The finish is impeccable. Sonny, do you or your network of associates know of someone that might be interested in acquiring that instrument? Let me know and thanks for all that you do!
Mr. Rollins, I am a recently discovered that I love jazz—jazz fan and when asked what kind of jazz I like, I answer, “Sonny Rollins, of course”. My parents loved jazz but I always thought it was for old folks. Well, here I am at 49 -ish and absolutely love jazz! My favorite CD’s are The Bridge, East Broadway Run Down and Saxophone Colossus! I hope one day to hear you in person.
Thank you for your beautiful music!
I want to thank you for all the great music and for inspiring people, including myself. When i started studying jazz guitar “no moe” was one of the first tunes i learned to play and i still catch myself whistling it from time to time.
Recently in an interview i read about your experience with yoga in relation to improvising. I found this very interesting, when i’m improvising i often find myself in situations where i’m overthinking or i’m to easily distracted. The problem is that there is so much information on the topic of yoga in general, i really don’t know where to start looking. It would be really cool if you could share some relevant sources, experiences, methods, exercises, tips… if possible, it would help a lot.
I wish you the very best and hope you come play in Belgium again sometime,
Hi, Mr. Rollins! I’m brazilian and I greatly appreciate your work. I wonder if you will come at some opportunity for Brazil. Or if possible, provide a schedule on their website, so we can keep up. Thank you, all good!
sonny! how was it to play with hawk back then? what was special about the session and newport gig?
Your inner soul light inspires my alto sax.Greetings from shiny Greece mr Rollins!
Great interview w/ George Bettinger on the Mom and PoP shop!!!
Thank you Sonny!!!
Hiya Mr. Rollins,
I just heard you on the Mom&Pop Shop
and I was truly inspired, you were positively a
Delight – Take Care and Be Well 🙂
I just listened to your interview with George Bettinger on the Mom and Pop show. It was on dreamstreamradio.com. It was lovely listening to you and hearing your music.! God bless you!
Hello Sonny, I would like to thank you for your advice to develop the lowest note of the tenor saxophone and then make all of your other notes as much like that one. I first heard of this about 1972 and I have stuck to that ever since. I recently read that you really like a Buescher tenor that you used to kiss goodnight and still own but do not play because it is not heavy enough in sound. I could really help you with that. There is a two fold anwer:1.you need a high powered engine, and could have one of my 205gm spun cast solid sterling silver J&D rod rubber Hite copies and I use a Rovner ligature and in my old age I use Vandoren #3.5s I used to use #3.5s and sometimes #5s on my 11* Florida Supertone LInk which Ben Harrod specially made for me in 1974. I was trying to catch up to King Curtis at the time but had a duodenal hemorrhage in 1980 which stopped that project but I pressed on with the 11* till I used to get triple high Cs really easily until I got diverticulitis. From about 1985 hower, I sobered up and gave up the high note thing and really loved my first and only rod rubber mouthpiece the J&D Hite. It absorbs too much sound so I begged David Hite to make me a copy in sterling silver and he, not liking metal mouthpieces said, why not make it yourself, so I did and you may benefit also, I would give it to you as a gift of appreciation. You had it all in 1959 with that King Super 20 was it a silversonic? I had to settle for a late model but it still annhilated MKVIs. I have a saxophone, a world first which is my second recommendation for you. It is electropalte encapsulated with 100 microns of copper INSIDE on the bore, and the same outside then 20 microns silver plating inside and outside and one micron of gold inside and outside. The only problem is that it was an old Julius Kielworth New King, and needs special work, but its sound is the most powerful, deep and heavy and flexible even so. If you are interested email me on email@example.com. PS; You could reward Adolph Sax by helping fulfil his unfulfilled dream, that of acceptance of the saxophone in the symphony orchestra. Try Playing the right hand of J S Bach’s two piano concertos BWV1052 in D minor, I play this as written which then becomes C minor concert, it sounds much better in D minor on the tenor than in E minor, the later is too tinny but easier fingering. the other is BWV 1056 in F minor. Type in David Fray, Largo and Presto and play along with him on the right hand or left hand in G minor it is great.
Got your new album – Road Shows 3 – listened to it the whole day today. Love it so much.
Best of wishes and much L-O-V-E
Over 40 years ago I went to see a boy from my gang to tell him where we were going to meet later. When he opened the door, I heard some music I knew and loved. “What are you listening to?” “Sonny Rollins” he said. That was the first time I really looked at him, and I liked what I saw. He was also impressed – a girl who likes jazz!! so he looked at me too, and he must have liked what he saw, because we have been happily together since – married for 33 years. Still listening to jazz, and particularly fond of your music. Thank you.
Dear Sonny Rollins,
I want to thank you for leading a life that so beautifully celebrates music, love, and the human spirit. May it be a model for us all. I was viewing a documentary about you today, Father’s Day, and recalled that I purchased my first Sonny Rollins album when my own (wonderful and creative) father passed as I was starting college. Your music became important to me then and has remained so for 35 years. I have been fortunate to attend your live performances (most recently in Detroit in 2012) that were nothing short of thrilling. I am enjoying the Road Show recordings as well as the rest. Thanks again for all that you do. May peace and blessings be yours. With sincere appreciation, Stuart
My condolences on the loss of your friend, the beautiful musician and composer Horace Silver. I’m thinking of what you said somewhere in an interview, when asked about your composition H.S. You said you think of Horace Silver as a courageous man and musician. His inspiring music lives on.
Much LOVE, Barbara
I have just discovered your cd “This is what I do” and I am enjoying it very much. Thank you for making so much great music over the years.
My friend John and I both wish you well and we hope to see you perform again in Philadelphia.
Dear Mr Rollins,
I am 14 years old and have been playing tenor for 2 years and loving it more than anything else in the whole wide world. And it wouldn’t of been possible without you. At 12, i was given a CD by my Mum titled Saxophone Colossus (maybe you have heard of it, hahaha) and you enchanted me so i just wanted to say…
But to my question. After being inspired by you from a young age and picking up tenor I finally have reached a point in my playing so that I have the ability to improvise. Because I believe it takes a good musician to play a song (especially by you) but an even greater musician to create his own. So could you possibly find some time to email me explaining how to create and release my own song. Ohh and please come to South Australia, i would feel honored if I could hear you in person.
so so much pleasure, confidence, energy and clearity given to me by your presence, by your sound and also by your wonderful thoughts and words.
NOW I know a question I would have really liked to ask on that Google Hangout date May 2014, though I am not a saxophone player:
How come that “Nucleus” album?
What could ever happen around you that, to me, music on every single tune seems to start with Mr. Maupins solos, ending when another one takes over – despite of all you wonderful musicians (I know from many recordings before and after this album)?
You know, I tried a few times to find out what I am not hearing, though it was a little stressy to hear those sounds – finally I got no idea. Sorry for writing this that directly.
One of the brightest things in my life (besides my kids, and having heard Monk, and Waldron live, Jimi Hendrix, Marley, and music at all) is that I had the chance to see and hear you live, to hear and think about and spread your words.
Thank you so much, dear Sonny / Mr. Rollins!
All the best to you
aka. alles Gute!
I hope everything alright for you. I listen to you you always give the joy and energy.
You inspire me all the time. Take care and God bless you.
Just read the satire piece from the New Yorker magazine. I enjoy satire as much as the next person and believe that I have a real appreciation for satire, however I don’t see this piece as being the least bit funny. You are truly an icon and one of my jazz heroes. I hope you live even longer and continue to make great music.
Just watched your live interview addressing your feelings about the ridiculous article that appeared in the New Yorker. You always have your head screwed on right so I almost knew what you were going to say. Bottom Line: Pay attention to doing the right thing individually and don’t worry about the other stuff. You’re always so wise and balanced and therefore I love listening to anything/everything you have to impart.
I have been a fan of yours since the ’60s and my respect, appreciation and admiration have only grown with the years. It was a thrill also to first meet you in the mid-’60s when our mutual buddy, Walter Bishop, Jr. introduced us at Wells in Harlem. Mem-o-ries!
I will be looking forward to hearing you next year and in the meantime, keep getting stronger. By the way, you looked hearty and healthy in the video.
Blessings and love to you, always and forever.
Just wanted say thank you so much for your beautiful music and beautiful spirit . I really enjoyed listening to your message about doing the right thing as an individual in these turbulent times we live in. Jazz is real ! Much love Sonny.
PS You’re looking good in Red !
Hello Mr. Rollins,
Funding for jazz is a big issue right now. Can you think of some things that would improve the way jazz is taught?
First of all: I hope so much you are doing well!
Thank you so much for your highly inspired and inspiring response to the TNY piece – you are beautiful.
The piece hurt me too – I feel so ashamed for what this mean guy did.
The creation, collaboration, and the gift of this art proves there is another dimension we can’t describe that is of pureness and perfection. Thank you for your inspiration to make us better spirits living in out human existence and reality. We know there’s much more to come… Blessings to you Mr. Rollins!
Sonny, regarding the New Yorker thing, thank you for your measured and understanding response to what was basically and idiotic, failed attempt at humour. You gave me so much pleasure in your live performances, and I can only think that if anyone wants to know what “humour” is, is its most humanistic and uplifting form… well, there it was, in your improvisations. Thank you Sonny.
Dear Sonny, Thank you for your eloquent reply regarding the New Yorker piece and for speaking out on behalf of jazz. We have written a letter to the editor (text copied below) of the New Yorker condemning this gross abuse of journalistic and technological power, we hope others will do the same.
From two American musicians in Strasbourg, France
Rick Hannah & Susan Vaillant
(letter to editor of New Yorker)
I have read and subscribed to the New Yorker for over 40 years. I am disgusted that the New Yorker would publish and falsely attribute to Sonny Rollins an anti-jazz tirade. Jazz has always been a minority art form, intensely beloved by many but too uncommercial to be more widely successful. Most people know little about jazz and will simply assume, with the New Yorker’s signature, that these statements represent the feelings of a jazz great. If previously the New Yorker distinguished itself with its jazz critic Whitney Balliett; now the New Yorker is bullying jazz. What did jazz ever do to the New Yorker to deserve such bullying? The New Yorker is bullying not only a jazz great in his own right but perhaps the last jazz great who played with nearly all the giants of jazz since the 1940s. In that measure he represents the history of jazz, the history of America’s one authentically original art form. You have attacked America’s cultural patrimony. An unequivocal and unambiguous apology, a public apology in the print edition and on the Internet, is due, and this should cite Sonny’s own wise words about jazz. Your continued silence will otherwise be considered a condoning of this new form of yellow anti-arts journalism and I will have no other choice but to cancel my subscription.
I want to thank you for your music. I currently play tenor saxophone and I consider you a master of tenor saxophone. I’m from Italy but currently I’m taking my vacation in catskills at Callicoon. Is it possible to meet you? It would be great to talk with you about jazz music .
A big hug
I know that anything I say here has probably already been said before, however I’d really like to let you know that I find everything about you and your music to be so inspiring. I know you’ll get through this minor setback at the moment . Please, I ask you, as a fan do not stop playing! It would mean the world to me if you could play in Canada! I get that that would be unrealistic but hey, it’s worth a shot. After all, you’ve already blown everyone’s minds before, so why not knock ’em dead again? Take care and keep on swingin
Thank you so much, Mr. Rollins, for your music and your willingness to express your thoughts and feelings about what you have experienced in your life through music. I recently was deeply moved by something you spoke about in a Google Hangout piece entitled “Spirituality and Improvisation.” The concept that each note one plays–regardless of his or her level of proficiency–can be an access-point to the transcendent beauty in the structures of jazz really spoke to me. As an older student who has loved your music for decades, but only recently returned to playing an instrument, that comment was very encouraging. My teacher tells me to look for the thirds and sevenths for instance, and I imagine these as parts of a reality like a path or something that can be felt as one plays, just like the ground can be felt as one walks–and you can immediately tell if your footing is right or not by how it feels. I hope someday I can learn this terrain enough to appreciate its beauty fully. So thanks so much from my heart for your encouraging comments that speak to people at all levels.
I am a junior at Graham Kapowsin High School in Graham, Washington. I am a very active and involved member in the band program at my school. I serve as the principal French horn in the wind ensemble and as the principal trombone in Jazz Ensemble I. Jazz has always been a major influence in my life. In fact, I am planning on obtaining a minor in jazz performance, as well as a major in horn performance.
I had the pleasure of meeting the great Conrad Herwig last year. One of the segments of his talk explained how as a jazz musician, one should listen to musicians both on your respective instrument and on other instruments. This being said, I have listened to your music repertoire extensively. Many of your standard tunes such as “St. Thomas” and “Doxy” are among my favorites. Your unique playing style is exquisite and unbelievably inspirational. I would like to sincerely thank you for the contribution that you have made to jazz. You have inspired me and countless other people.
Every year my high school and the neighboring middle school host a jazz festival. This is such a wonderful opportunity for the many students and bands that attend. Through the festival, we are keeping the spirit of jazz alive and honoring the great jazz legends of the past and present by continuing to play their amazing music. Jazz is America’s first and foremost unique musical style, whether it be swing, blues, bebop, or any other style. As the great Lois Armstrong once said, “Hot can be cool & cool can be hot & each can be both. But hot or cool man, Jazz is Jazz.” Festivals like this ensure that jazz will not only be remembered, but will be played and celebrated for centuries to come. In the past, we have had many famous jazz musicians visit our festival and participate in our evening concert. Some of these musicians include Eric Marienthal, Byron Stripling, and Conrad Herwig. In March, we will be celebrating our 23rd annual jazz festival. I would like to personally invite you to attend our festival as our special guest. It would be an honor to have one of the greatest jazz musicians and tenor saxophonists in history visit our jazz festival. Thank you for your time and your contributions to jazz.
I’m thrilled to hear that you plan to be back on the bandstand in 2015! I hope that NYC is one of the venues that you’re considering. I was at your 80th birthday concert at Beacon Theater, and it was magical. All the best, and continued good health. Much love to you.
Dear Mr. Rollins;
I am an admirer of your work and saw your amazing concert in the Boston area around 2000. I am also the daughter of jazz trumpeter Emmett Berry, whom I believe you knew and possibly worked with. I see you and my father are both in the iconic “Great Day in Harlem” photo. My father retired when I was a child and never spoke about the music business after that. I learned a little about his career mainly from my mother, but I lost her in 1990, fairly early in my life.
If you knew my father and/or played with him, would you mind sharing any memories you may have of him? It would mean a lot to me, as I have been trying to learn more about his career.
I read the New Yorker piece in question and was appalled, as well as very much amused, by the piece. I also saw a response video by you. I am a tenor player and, of course, a huge fan of yours. You must know that in no way can your reputation nor your place in the tradition of Jazz be in any way be even dented to the slightest degree by a humorous piece like this one. Its just art – like jazz.
To Our King of theTtenor
Happy 84th Birthday.
I wanted to express my appreciation for all your musical contributions to the world, and to me.
I started playing the tenor saxophone when I was 11 (I’m now 18) for school band. I chose the saxophone because I had previously heard your music. It inspired me, touched my soul, made me see music and myself as a musician in a completely new light. I started using the saxophone as a means of escape from my home life. Without going into detail, I can say that I had a bad childhood. I was suffering through depression for many of my teen years, and practicing the sax almost all he time was my way to help cope with my situation. I remember trying to learn many of your solos the first couple of weeks I got the instrument and not even coming close to what I’d thought I’d start off like. Now I’m a very accomplished jazz saxophonist, but even in the beginning stages it brought me to another world, a world that I enjoyed and loved much more then the one I was in before.
Present day, I’ve since gotten through and dealt with my depression, and I owe a lot of that to you. Directly or indirectly, you saved my life.
Today I started watching some Q&A sessions you were having with people, and it literally put me to tears. I obviously don’t know you personally (and it’s always been my dream to see you play live), but you seem just as amazing a person as you are a musician. The things you’ve had to say and the advice you’ve given to people over the years that I’ve listened to have helped me immensely, both as a musician and on a personal level.
So thank you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. I feel like I owe you so much, even though we’ve never spoken directly. But your music, passion, and words have spoken to me, and it has spoken to countless others around the world. I can’t express my appreciation enough.
Music is sharing and my life is music. I am not a musician, I am a collector who puts music in historical context.
I am a Nursing Home Administrator who turned 52 on the 3rd. Realizing that life is fleeting, I make it a Point to communicate my appreciation of others in the here and now.
While reflecting on my own Birthday, I recalled that yours was on the 7th. I wish you the warmest birthday wishes as you turn a spry young 84. Age is a state of mind as, I sit listening to your music I know that you are immortal You have not aged or grown stagnant. You continue to evolve. You leave so much in your music for us all to embrace and enjoy.
I have amassed a collection of cd’s that exceeds 9,000 titles. Most people watch TV. I just listen to music. The music I listen to varies daily and cycle through many genres. My deepest love is jazz.
This past spring as I was perusing my collection (I liken it to standing in front of the refrigerator when you don’t know what you are hungry for) and choose “The Bridge.” It reawakened my love for your playing. It is now September and your albums have been in my rotation every day. I so appreciate the legacy of music that you have and continue to share.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to wish you a Happy 84th Birthday and thank you for sharing your music and your magic with the world.
happy birthday Sonny, and thank you for your great swingin’ music
A very big hug from Gallina family!
Happy birthday Sonny!
Salvatore, Flavia, Lucia and Pietro
Dear Sonny Rollins!
Please accept our heartfelt wishes on your 84th Birthday!
Thank you so much for all your wonderful music – live and on vinyl – which will be with us forever! We have attended some 24 concerts of you round the world: at last I’ve been on your 80th Birthday concert at the Beacon Theatre which I certainly never forget! Wow!
We love you, Sonny, take care, God bless you!
Verena & Werner
PS We are trying to mail you a picture of us: you then might remember us…
Thank you for all the beauty and love you have brought into this world.
I wish you a very Happy Birthday, and many, many more to come.
Sonny, Happiest of 84th Birthdays! I was having a bad day Sunday until I went out to busk and play my Mark VI tenor outside for the people. I soon found myself in the meditative state you speak of, and all was well with the world once again. I was playing along with a pop tune and “St. Thomas” popped out! I guess I was thinking of you.
You’ve been such an inspiration to me over my entire saxophone career, and I was privileged to speak with you after your concert in Detroit in 2010, on my 52nd birthday!
Much love and appreciation, and continued saxophone magic down the road.
– Jeff Newton ( from DETROIT)
Dear Mr. Rollins!
Now I and my teacher who became a jazzmen due to your “I’ve Found a New Baby” are sitting and listening your brilliant solo (8 minutes) from “Roadshows Vol.3” – again and again.
Best wishes from Russia!
Happy Birthday Sonny from your (probably no longer) youngest fan! Noah just turned 7, and we are still great fans! We hope to hear you in concert again one day soon. We still enjoy listening to all of your recordings, but hearing you play live is such a joy!
Noah Mike & Catherine
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONNY. YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!
Happy Birthday Sonny!
Despite what was said in the New Yorker article,the death of JAZZ has been predicted for many years,by many people,but just like you,it keeps moving on.
Enjoy the day and listen to some music.
Happy 84th Birthday Sonny Rollins! May you have many more. Anxious to see you perform in the Midwest soon! Big Chicago Fans, Nick & Kent
Thank you for your music.
Thank you for your wisdom.
Thank you for your spirit.
Know that you are respected and loved throughout the world.
! Happy Birthday !
please perform in/nearby Portland, Oregon
* thank you* for your musical stylings + i have really in-joyed your visits to Mr. Tavis Smileys
Happy birthday Sonny. May you have many more.
I can’t find any words adequate enough to articulate how much your music means to me. It takes me to a place beyond words, beyond time, a place of pure joy and feeling. You are a treasure, and I am forever grateful to you for the gifts you have bestowed upon us for all these years. Wishing you a happy birthday, and may all your days be full of happiness and good health.
Most sincerely yours,
Happiest of happy birthdays, Mr. Rollins; thank you.
~ HAPPY (84th) BIRTHDAY, SONNY!!!
Your singular tone, keen sense of organic structure, ambidextrous timing, humorous quotes, supreme swagger, infectious personality, very personal note choice, note displacement, keen sense of drama, staccato punctuations followed by virtuosic runs, worrying a single note, ability to utilize various tonal textures within a single solo, unique use of smeared notes….All of these achievements and more, mark you as a major innovator on your beloved tenor saxophone, since the 1950’s!
You have captured the imagination of several generations of saxophonists, musicians of various genres and avid music fans, all over the world! Continue to thrive for many, many years, Sonny and know that we, your devout fans, look forward to your return to the world stage, like kids who can hardly get to sleep, on the night before Christmas!!
Thank you for being the BEST ROLE MODEL a young saxophonist could ever hope to have!
Love You Madly,
Hi Sonny, Happy Birthday and many more fruitful years! We remember your kindnesses to us over the years. We met in 1960; You received us in many places during the times we were able to attend your concerts and “gigs”. I did ring the bell on Delancey! You and Lucille treated me with kindness. She was and is a gem. Thanks you again for your excellence. Stay well,
Happy Birthday and thanks so much for the music.
A belated Happy Birthday from Chennai, South India. I cannot begin to express what your music, like that of J.S.Bach and Indian classical music means to me, so a simple thank you will have to suffice. One of my biggest regrets in life is not being able to attend your September 2010 concert at the Beacon theatre though I was visiting friends in NYC that week . I am planning my next visit to the US based almost entirely on your concert schedule and hope to catch you in a concert soon. Here’s to many, many more birthdays .
I enjoy all types of music, all day long and have been toying with an acoustic guitar for a couple of years now, but listening to jazz is an obsession, and lately, your recordings have been high on my daily hit parade. They are a true respite in a world struggling. Thank you for staying true to your muse and taking the time off that you did because it seems to have rejuvenated you a rewarded us all. I live in New Jersey, not far from the Van Gelder studios where so many jazz documents were produced. I hope to be lucky enough to attend one of your performances, someday. God Bless.
Happy Birthday, Sonny! My Daddy started me listening to your music before I could even crawl up high enough to scratch up all of his records. Daddy was born in ’32 and he was a big fan of yours. He didn’t quite make it this long with us. He died in 2009, but he sure loved the way you play the Sax. When I hear your music I think of my Daddy. Good luck to you, Mr. Rollins.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
What makes good music? People have been trying to answer this since the beginning of the first beat. However, I believe you have found the key. Passion is what brings music alive. In your music the passion you play with makes the music change from a song to a story. The music speaks to you and reveals a little more of the tale with each note you play. Brilliance is not sufficient enough in describing your music or your ideologies on philosophy. Not only are you a master of music, you also offer the world some thought and explanation of life.
I am a fan of not only your music, but your philosophy as well. However I would never had heard about you if it wasn’t for my friend Alex. He has been playing the saxophone for six years now. He absolutely thinks you are a musical genius and spends his free time looking up your ideas on philosophy or attempting to play with the same passion that you play with. Alex is a special soul. He values the little things and enjoys simplicity.Which is very rare to find in a teenage boy. I was hoping you would be making a trip down to Florida to preform a concert. However, I cannot find any events listed. So I thought I would ask you if you had a performance schedule. I was hoping to try to get tickets to see one of your shows. The thing with Alex is he is very humble and would be just as appreciative if I took him to see a local Jazz band, that just the type of guy he is. But I know he would be awestruck if we went to see you, his favorite saxophone player. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this email.
Your music is greatly appreciated,
I hope, while you are becoming quite of age now, you are doing alright. You’re sound (live & CD) was the reason I started to play the saxophone. Words can’t express my gratitude for that gift. So I’ll leave you to the rest of what I hope will be a good life for you. Thanks again.
Thank you for the great music. I am a pianist and often play ‘Oleo’ on my Fender Rhodes.
A while back I wrote a fast bebop composition entitled ‘Exactitude’ and would love for you to check out the sheet music at: http://www.jakehirsch.com/music/Exactitude.pdf
Please let me know what you think if you get a chance to blow through it.
this summer in ontario i wrote a poem for you:
Something about Sonny Rollins defending jazz
And talking on the phone with an old poet friend
Today while an eagle sits in the pine tree
Thirty feet from me in my white Adirondack chair
On the deck above the stony shore of the North Channel
Of Lake Huron. First I saw an eagle cross the lake
Flying away. Then one flew towards me, crying out
As another flew behind. The first went south down
The blue shore, while this one landed just above
Me. I’ve been this close to these birds before.
“At a very young age I was exposed to jazz,” Sonny says.
And I have been frequenting this lakeshore cottage
Since before it was a structure, when it was an idea,
At the foot of a trail hacked by machete, a family
Dreamed of a summer escape, and then a plan, a builder
The birch, spruce, poplar, cedar, and pine made
Home for porcupines, prickly, raccoons, masked, and
Jays, woodpeckers, crows, gulls. Over the past ten years
Eagles have returned. Returned from before my childhood.
This one faced me, and bent its neck beak, hooked, yellow
To its talons, pulling at food, likely fish skin, tearing, eating
And raising its head to cry, the mate cries back, from where
I cannot see, but the feathers ruffle, the cry has several beats,
And more between. My poet friend hears the cry in far
Off Kentucky, while I imagine jazz. As I write this I hear
Sonny Rollins, in his own words, “You’re not hurting anybody
You’re learning.” As he talks about jazz I think of the majesty
Of the great predator, so close, facing, calling, then preening,
Great dark feathers. I want to say that the Canadian
Wilderness is like American jazz. A natural music. “Don’t worry
About [what] has no bearing on you, do what you have to do, don’t worry.”
The bird has bearing on what? She flies away, my longing with her.
Sonny, please! Answer the question, if you have information. What Otto Link tenor mouthpiece used John Coltrane? Some say that it is Super Tone Master, others say Florida Super Tone Master, others say Link*5, Link*7, etc. I address it to you, because you were friends and colleagues with John, and may know exactly, what kind of. Thanks in advance and Happy 84th Birthday! Be healthy yet 100 years! You are real Saxophone Colossus! (Sorry for my “INGLISH”).
Man, just one thing: what’s the secret? How do I get to that coveted state Bird talked about? Transcribing? I want the instrument as a seamless extension of my physical and creative self. I don’t want to be bound by patterns, logic, physicalities of playing or, God forbid, guesswork.
You are easily the best living improviser. Incidentally, I’ve been listening to Debussy’s Reverie from Nucleus. Flawless playing by everyone. Music gives me more pleasure than anything else. I’ve had such mind-boggling releases of dopamine from music that I was afraid of desensitization, which eventually did set in. Plus I’m starting to run out of good music now man. School and ruts of life are consuming my time, when all I want to do is play, listen, play, play, listen, play…
You are a true master. Btw, I’m having trouble finding some of your albums here but I’ll get my hands on them eventually… Take care man. Maybe come perform in Croatia?
Dear Mr Rollins.
I just saw your documentary made by Olaf van Paassen on television.
For years you,re my musical inspirator and big example.
This documentary is made so beautiful and respectful.
For me I watched with deep emotions and constant goose bumps.
Thank you for being here. I love your music, creativity, wisdom and love for what you,re doing.
Tomorrow I will play better will always be my mantra
Greetings and deep respect
Tom de Groot
Dear Sonny, belated greetings. It was at Oberlin College in 1979 and we went outside. I invited you to my wedding where Bill Durango played. You sent me a beautiful reply . Got to see u in Detroit last summer. U were great! Please don’t forget my good friend, Arthur Blythe, who is dealing with Parkinson’s . You are the greatest living tenor in the known universe. Best wishes, good health and belated birthday greetings. May u play forever!
I just found your letter that you wrote back to me in response to my questions about mouthpieces – way back in 1978. I do not think I ever said to you ….Thank you. So there! Thank you for your time….and your art. You inspired me by what you wrote. I now play Drums, Guitar and Tenor. Just like in the Gospel….how many said thanks? I know I am not the only one. Yours truly- The Kid you met backstage at Saratoga in 78- from Montpelier Vermont. Ps- almost died of a heart attack when your letter arrived in my P.O box- Love- Karl
Hello Mr. Rollins,
I’m a 6th grader who just started playing alto saxophone in August. I am in my school’s jazz band. I started to listen to more jazz because of it and I love it. I love music and would like it somehow to become my living, whether as a musician or teacher, I don’t really care which. We are doing a project on an person that was influential in the world and I would like to do a jazz saxophonist. You are one of my choices. Are there any tips you could give me on playing sax and/or with my project?
Thanks! Also, thank you for all of the great music that you have been able to share with the world. I love it.
Dear Sonny. I was at theToronto concert at opera house 4 or 5 yrs ago with my dad .he was quite ill at the time with emphezyma. and has since passed away. But for both of us it was a musical and cultural highlight of a life time that has included especially for my dad many of the greats of jazz from many different eras. Doug started and developed jazz in Toronto and Canada ( and was awarded the order of Canada. our countries highest civilian award for his efforts) through his clubs Georges Spagetti, House Bourbon st, Basin st and the Kibbiteria featuring many of the great canadian players ie Moe Koffman Ed Bickert. Rob mcconell and his Boss Brass, Oscar Peterson. to name a few as well as such international stars as Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, the Marsalis Family, Betty(be bop) Carter, Stan Getz and so on.As we left your concert my Dad turned to me and said I am glad I didn’t go to my grave without seeing Sonny Rollins play like that. I will die a happy man ! Thank you for that. I now live 2 hours north of Toronto in the town of Huntsville. Each summer we put on a jazz festival featuring some of the top acts available to us and each year my fathers scholarship fund sponsors one of the concerts if you where available we would love to have you perform here for us. It would mean a great deal for the reputation of our festival. If you cannot we understand and wish you the best of health. And we know you will always keep swinging.
Dear Sonny Rollins
I just wanted to tell you how happy I am about my son Otis, who is 8 years old. He has fallen in love with your music, especially, ‘Saxophone Colossus’, he can sing along with your every note, and it has inspired him to take up the tenor. He has been captured by your contagious spirit, just like I was 35 years ago….and it still holds strong for me. Let’s hope he is flying the flag for your music in another 35 years. Sincere best wishes, Ken and Otis, from the subtropical rainforest of Australia.
Dear Señor Sonny Rollins: In Fall 1960, I went 6 months without speaking, trying to find my inner voice that I had Heard up in the wilds of Wyoming. I had almost given up hope of ever
refinding that voice. But then you came into my life and those long pauses within your music gave me the understanding that it is the darkness between the stars that gives siginificance to the stars. And it’s what you don’t write that then gives brilliance to each Word that you put on a page. With your guidance, I have written 5 bestsellers and received 3 Pulitzer nominations, was made founding Chair of Steinbeck Institute and Alex Haley became my mentor. And now, after 52 years of writing, Will Smith and Sony are willing to back my book, ‘Rain of Gold’, the Latino ‘Roots’. Over the years, I have written to you a couple of times and have never received a response. You are my hero, my spirit guide and my great amigo. I invite you to come to my home and stay with me, where I live in an old hacienda, next to the beach, in North San Diego County. I loved seeing you in that White suit when you presented President Barack Obama. I met Obama 25 years ago in South Chicago, along with Mary Gonzalez and Greg (an ex Jesuit). He, too, is my hero. Crush us,
beat us down, and with the voice of god, we will rise up out of the ashes. God bless you.
I would like to send to your POB some of my books. They are used in high schools and universities throughout the country. Thank you gracias. – Victor E. Villaseñor
I cannot express the complete positive nature that your music has had on me. I am a jazz studies major at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a tenor saxophone player. Although I am far from where I would like to be as a player, I feel that the soulfulness and emotion of your music has given me a direction and a vision of the player I would like to become. I feel I must thank you for that and for all that you have done for the players of my generation, and for all your wonderful music. St. Thomas always brings me through those dark days to a better place.
Hope you are doing well and god bless.
Without your songs, the day would never end!
Thank you for the happiness I feel when I listen to your music.
Your show at Symphony Hall in Boston a few years back was great.
Wishing you Sunny Days and Starry Nights.
Mr. Rollins… first, any word on when you will be touring again. 2nd , I was at your interview at the New Orleans Jazz fest in 2011, but was unable to ask you a question about my favorite guitar player, may he rest in peace, Jim Hall. I once read where you said if you were playing with Jim Hall you did not need a piano player. Please explain the statement.
Also….. we miss you here in Houston….PLEASE RETURN!!!! ( or Austin)
Wishing you peace and good health….
It was a great honor to get such positive comments on my music from you on your latest Down Beat Blindfold test. Thank you! Ive loved your music for the past 35 years!
I wish you the very best,
I have deeply enjoyed your music for several years and am a jazz player myself. I play guitar in a couple of jazz groups locally, but only on occasion and with friends; Your music has inspired me to become an instrumentalist in your mold. I had the opportunity to see you play in St. Louis 2 years ago, but sadly you were ill at the time and the date was cancelled. I wish you all the best and hope you can find your way to St. Louis sometime.
Best wishes and deepest admiration,
Dear Mr. Rollins,
First and foremost, I would like to say that you sir have been, and still are an immense inspiration. I am a 24 year old piano player from Atlanta, GA. I was first introduced to your music in my high school jazz band. Playing your compositions was always such a thrill for us! It is now my privilege and honor to study jazz, while looking forward to advancing the art form. Your vitality has given me hope that forward progress is still very much so attainable! I pray your continued strength, focus, happiness and success. THANK YOU FOR BEING A PILLAR OF GREAT MUSICALITY!!
Here it is 3 months and 7 days after your 84th year of acknowledgment as a member of the world. I tried to phone you, September 7th, but you’ve changed, the number of your phone was gone…
So as the great philosopher, Tenner Gladness, once said: “Better late than tomorrow.”
I remember Monday night, July 19, 1954, when I, as a teenager, first saw you in-person, with Horace Silver at Birdland. It was shock and awe.
How shocking it was that a Coke cost a dollar. The awe came with the music, especially your tenor.
Within weeks, I was doing odd jobs to pay for my first tenor, a King Super 20, now replaced by a Selmer Mark 7.
More than 60 years since then, I’ve been privileged to have met and heard you so many times, capped by the honor of emceeing your concert at Opus 40.
I wanted to play the Birthday Song for you, this time, but I was not aware of the video clips, so I know you can use your imagination, it makes a cloudy day sunny, Sonny.
‘Til then, let’s wait again, ’til then, Please, Sonny.
I thank you for your music. I just yesterday read some album notes from “Saxophone Colossus and More” and they blew me away. It describes your musical devices such as “the elastic treatment of time, heard in the held and subtly lengthened and contracted tones” and also “the permutation of phrase fragments, yielding new combinations which are then explored.” How eloquently described, but so much more enriching to HEAR when one listens to your songs. Keep it up. You inspire young musicians. You nurture your listeners with your sound. Your artistic voice and spirit is unbound.
A true fan, Celeste Smither
On 01/17/15 at 9:57 pm it’s freezing in the Detroit suburbs. There’s sloppy black snow everywhere and nothing on TV except advertisements for the annual Big 3 Auto Show. I can’t stand smiling salesmen so I go downstairs, into the man-cave, to listen to records.
I have so many that I don’t even know what I have. I get lost in them. It clears the mind. Sometimes I come across a long forgotten record, a pleasant surprise from the past. Tonight it’s mono copy of the Alfie soundtrack with my favorite sax player Sonny Rollins. How did I forget about that one???
Let me tell you, the record is heavy, like bowling ball heavy. Thick too. Did they melt bowling balls to press these things back in the 60’s? Seriously, you could throw that record Chinese star style and take off three Ninja heads.
The music is wonderful too, a great listen. The mono is “in your face” and “right up front”. It made me find this website and start writing…
Thanks Sonny, you are well loved.
Slight Paunch (washed up drummer)
P.S. I found another pleasant surprise…Kenny Burrell, “Ellington Is Forever”, a double album. Nice listen too. Music is the best.
I’m one of the few female players out there! Been playing almost 3 years, been at it like a demon, and discovered a real passion for jazz. Listen to you a lot and play your tunes at home, at jams and now got my first jazz gig at the end of next month 🙂
You play from the heart, your playing has helped me a lot.
Thanks and best wishes to you
We just cannot thank you enough for your music. I have enjoyed it for many years now and I imagine will always keep doing so. Right now, as I write, I listen to your Freedom Suite. Your sound is so unique.
With deep admiration,
LOVE your music! Hope to see you around the Hudson Valley sometime.
Hello, Mr. Sonny Rollins,
In school we are learning about jazz, and I chose to do a project on you. I’ve heard of some of your songs like “St. Thomas”, “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. Though the fellow pupils in my class have not, so I was wondering if you could respond back to this with a quote about how jazz can ppdifferent every time someone plays it. I’ve heard about your 9/11 story, and I’m glad you took the saxophone in your hand. Please write back!
I saw you in France/Juan-le-Pins 2005 and I’m great fan of your music. I’m very happy that with RoadshowsIII you have made possible to hear live performances of this time on CD. I hope it will be possible that sometimes you bring a Collection of maybe Juan-le_Pins-Performances on CD. I hope also very much that I can hear you again in Europe sometime.
Hello my question is a strange one. I am inquiring to find out if Sonny had a brother by the name of Thomas Rollins. Not sure if there is any connection or not, but as myths goes it’s been passed down to me that Thomas Rollins ( My grandfather ) was Sonny’s uncle. Any chance Sonny can confirm or deny this long held question? Thomas Rollins had a son named Philip Rollins and Philip is my biological father. Just curious let me know and thank you in advance.
As a music lover and audiophile, after 35 plus years of listening to rock I am now trying to build a collection of classic jazz. Absolutely in love with Saxaphone Colusses and looking forward to adding more of your recordings to my collection. Wishing you good health and happiness.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
my name is Francesco Brancato. I’m 23 years old and I’m studying at the Turin’s Conservatory of Music in the Jazz department directed by Furio Di Castri and my teacher is Enzo Zirilli. During these years I also had the pleasure to meet Emanuele Cisi and Dado Moroni, great Masters and Men. With them I established a good and precious relationship.
I’m writing to you because I’m going to graduate in a few months and I would like to go deep in the meaning of Jazz: I would like to talk about analogies I found between dynamic-meditation practices as Tai Ji Quan – that I practiced in last 4 years, as Woody Shaw did – and music, especially talking about the intensity of your rhythmic approach to the music and your musical ideas I listened in your records. I will talk about Jimmy Cobb, my favorite drummer, Tony Williams, Roy Haynes and Elvin Jones. My intent is to underline how jazz music can be a “collective meditation practice” when musicians link their personalities to create a special atmosphere for a tune, an album or a concert. I think you are one of the most representative musician about this topic.
I hope you agree and like my way of thinking and my words: I could not have a greatest joy and I would be forever honored.
Can I ask you only three questions?
– Talking about the intensity of your playing, what is (or which are) the way(s) to get in concentration for you?
– Have you ever considered music as a meditation practice?
– “One deep breath” – the first step to practice meditation – can be really important to let an horn player to play his phrase and also for rhythmic section to let them take the time and link themselves. How important is “one deep breath” for you?
Thank You Mr. Rollins for the wonderful music and energy you gave to the whole Humanity, Culture and Music.
God Bless you.
Dear Mr Rollins
I am a 16 year old drummer who aspires to be a working touring jazz drummer. It was your music that started me in the path of jazz. After hearing Oleo in 7th grade I knew that’s what I wanted to do. You and saxophone always puts in a good mood. Because of you I I love staying after school and swinging to jazz with my friends. Even though I’m a drummer, you and your saxophone playing have been my greatest musical influence. Because of the love of jazz you put in me I am now the Southern California Jazz honor band drummer. I hope one of these days I can see you in concert.
PS. If you happen to be in the Ventura county area please stop by Newbury Park High School. 🙂
I must admit, I have just recently got into the wonderful music that is jazz. I am a junior in high school and I play lead trumpet in our jazz band.
I have been in this band for almost 4 years as lead horn, but I never truly felt the feel of jazz and its rich history (call me a square!). Anyway, this year was the year I truly got into the music and its been an amazing experience.
Sonny, your contribution to the jazz world is astonishing and it is a great honor to be able to even have the option of contacting a jazz legend! My only wish is to be able to exchange just even a few words with you or a few messages.
Thank you for being a part of my jazz experience and enhancing the jazz world. Hope to be able to talk to you at least once.
– Michael Oselskyi
Back in 1976, you performed a benefit concert for special education at Yale University’s Sprague Hall. It was a great concert! One of my students, Bruce Gillespie, had Down Syndrome and did a drawing of you that we used in our program and for our poster. It was a great drawing.
Over time, our organization Creative Concerts put on other concerts featuring performers such as McCoy Tyner, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Teddy Wilson, Gary Burton, etc. And for each concert, Bruce did a drawing.
Just recently, Bruce has been recognized for his artwork. He has an art exhibit at the New Haven Arts Council’s gallery called “Jazz Riffs,” and it has all the posters that Bruce drew for us.
The New Haven newspaper did an extended feature on Bruce. The opening photo for the article has Bruce standing next to the drawing of you.
I wonder if you still remember our concert organization and the drawing. In any event, I would love to send you the link to the New Haven Register’s feature on it. Or I could send you the article. I’m sure you’d enjoy it.
If you want me to email this to you or send it to you by regular mail, just tell me how I should do this and I would be happy to do this for you.
We have never forgotten your generosity in performing for us!
Some people have told me my horn playing sounds like sonny rollins. Theres no way I cohld compare to the greats. It bums me out because I want to sound like myself, but it’s so hard to break the mold when the clay was already formed so immaculately. Of course im born into a time period in which everything great has really already been done and said. One day i hope to really sound like me. Thanks for the inspiration and I will always think of without a song when im feeling down and out of luck.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
my name is Francesco Brancato. I’m 23 years old and I’m studying at the Turin’s Conservatory of Music in the Jazz department directed by Furio Di Castri and my teacher is Enzo Zirilli. During these years I also had the pleasure to meet Emanuele Cisi and Dado Moroni, great Masters and Men. With them I established a good and precious relationship.
I’m writing to you because I’m going to graduate in a few months and I would like to go deep in the meaning of Jazz: I would like to talk about analogies I found between dynamic-meditation practices as Tai Ji Quan – that I practiced in last 4 years, as Woody Shaw did – and music, especially talking about the intensity of your rhythmic approach to the music and your musical ideas I listened in your records. My intent is to underline how jazz music can be a “collective meditation practice” when musicians link their personalities to create a special atmosphere for a tune, an album or a concert. I think you are one of the most representative musician about this topic.
Dear Mr. Rollins.
I am a young aspiring musician from Florida and you are one of my biggest role models, i’m
only 17 and i enjoy listening to all of you music. i want to study to play sax and travel around
the world to bring joy to people through music. i own all you vinyl, I would go to the local record shop just to check if they had any almost twice a week. my high school jazz band is struggling to keep the music going because people are losing fate so i have shown them all different jazz legends for there respective instruments to get them excited about jazz but in the end very few really show passion for the lifestyle. I enjoy listening to all of your music but my motivation song is “He’s younger then you are” from the album Alfie. i have a small little combo over here in Orlando and we are constantly practicing and playing in little coffee shops to bring smiles around the city. if you have anything that can help us it would be greatly appreciated by all 4 of us we are very eager to learn and take in any knowledge of the great legends such as yourself. and also we where wondering if you could send the score to “He’s younger then you are”, it would be an honor to practice such an amazing piece of music from you; we would purchase the score but we have all been saving up for a double bass for are bassist.
Thank you for your time Mr. Rollins,
I had no where to go tonight, and Im listening to Saxophone Colossus for the first time. I looove jazz but I didnt know about you until now. I was thinking of listening to Coltranes , which is one of my favorite songs, then I was thinking of going to Smalls tomorrow at late night by myself, so I was looking at gigs schedule, and then I saw your name on the profile of the sax player who will be playing there tomorrow, because his profile said that you were one of his huge inspirations. So you are the Sonny!!! Hahahaha!!! I know its a shame that I didnt know you who is a jazz legend, when I say Im a huge jazz lover all the times. But I wanted to let you know Im so happy to discover your music! Sometimes dead people are more famous than alive legends, you know.
Im so excited to listen to your music all night long !!!!
Hope you are playing in New york city soon!
Thank you for your music Sonny!
Your new fan,
Dear Sonny Rollins,
You inspire me to make music. And for that, I love you man. You make the world more beautiful with your saxophone. I am a saxophone player too, and I just wanted to reach out to you to let you know how important you are to me. Thank you.
Hello Mr. Rollins-
It has been a few years since I had the pleasure of speaking to you.. I am the Principal of the School in Long Island whose students sent you letters and cards of congratulations when you received the Kennedy Center Honor. I wish you the best of everything.
It has been my great pleasure to study your music this year in jazz improvisation class at Arizona State University. I am a Masters classical flute performance major but I have enrolled in as many jazz classes and performing jazz ensembles as possible while at ASU.
You are also one of the musicians who will be featured in a paper I am presenting titled “Music Performance for a Lifetime”. My focus for this project is to try to discover and reveal how particular musicians have sustained their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health over a lifetime of musical performance.
I have come back to college to get my Masters at age 53. I know that is unusual, especially in the study of collegiate music, but there is so much more I want to learn, particularly related to jazz performance. I believe people can make significant, and sometimes their best, contributions to music and humanity after age 50. You are an inspiring example for all hoping to continue making music for their entire lifetime.
If possible, I would love to receive a personal response from you that I could include in my paper/presentation. My two questions are: To what do you attribute your ability to have a life-long career in music performance? What advice, regarding longevity, would you offer to college music students hoping to have a long music performance career?
Thank you for your consideration of my request,
I have recently spent some time Emilio Lyons and am working on a paper about him and his life. He speaks so kindly about you and has shared many endearing stories. I was wondering if you had any ‘Emilio’ memories you would like to share? As a saxophonist myself your music has been inspirational and it would very meaningful if I could include your thoughts on the ‘Sax Doctor’.
I admire your work and your long, productive life. You set a standard few can match. I am a seventy year old retired artist (retired from just about everything but art) I am making a video about an 80 year old artist from Baltimore named Raoul Middleman. He has been a lifelong fan of yours.
Unlike yourself, who is famous the world over, Raoul is known mostly in Maryland. Like yourself, he has given himself unsparingly to his art. His output has been immense., and he deserves to me more widely noticed. I was hoping to use some of your music in the soundtrack of this youtube video, but I am on social security and cannot afford the licensing fees. This project is done out of love – not profit. Is there any way I can use some of your music without paying the licensing fees?
Yours sincerely, Charles
I saw you live in Albuquerque,NM a while back-I’ll never forget that show. Global warming is in my automobile’s compact disk player. Always a good spin! Remember that one thing 🙂 ..that one thing.
I’ve appreciated your music for many years. Once when I lived in San Francisco, you were playing Skylark on my record player while my windows were open — and after the song was over, a mockingbird outside my window sang your solo again and again. I wonder how much of the music you’ve made has gone wild and where it has traveled? Thank you for sharing your gift.
All best wishes,
Your solos are the best thing in music to me.
I just heard your recording of “Mangos” from your 1957 The Sound of Sonny album down here in DC on wpfw 89.3. I loved it. I enjoyed your rhythm and sound. I’ll never forget how Faith Ringgold said that you inspired her to get serious about her art. I made a series of water color paintings called “Jazz Licks” that were inspired by your solo : )
All the Best and Many Blessings,
I would like to say thank you. Thank you for all your music, your amazing playing, your friendships with band members creating intense music. Thank you for making everyone in the world feel happy and excited about your music on so many different recording dates. Thank you for being a big part of my life. When I first heard you solo the first 8 bars on Saint Thomas, everything just clicked into place. By listening to you, you have helped me to become a better musician. You helped to expand and fill my sound and improvisation with so much passion and soul. You have helped me to become a better person and musician. I have analyzed a bunch of works on Saxophone Colossus, Tenor Madness, Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders, Way West, Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass, and etc. Overall just thank you being a big part in not just mine but in everyone’s life. You have truly made a unique and amazing contribution to the Jazz Age overall. Just a quick question what kind of specific name was the mouthpiece you used on Way Out West, the shiny gold one? Finally I hope that maybe this year I would get an opportunity to see you live maybe this year in 2015-15 for a Road Shows Vol.4 sometime in NJ, and maybe if I’m lucky like you were when you played with your idol Coleman Hawkins I can get the opportunity to play with you some day. Overall thank you for being a major contribution to jazz and for all the people around the world.
I can’t express words how much you’ve inspired me. You, along with people such as Dizzy Gillespie, and Duke Ellington, continue to motivate me to become a better musician. I’ve submerged myself into Jazz, as if it were a culture itself. Literally, 24/7, continuous Jazz. Whether it’s listening to great players such as yourself, reading books and autobiographies, or watching television such as “Ken Burns: Jazz,” or other documentaries. I’m currently in High School, and am studying Saxophone relentlessly.
As I’m sure you know, one of the greats, Ornette Coleman recently passed away. I wonder to myself, “why some people are complete bigots?” Most people who I’ve known, even who are studying Jazz, have never heard of Ornette. It’s a great shame that everyone has heard of Beyonce, but very few have heard the genius Ornette Coleman. To me it’s very disturbing. Don’t they realize that their music is cheap? That their music is contributing to the death of the arts, like Jazz? I’m not saying Jazz is dying (thanks to all of the Band Directors, and people like Wynton Marsalis), I’m saying Jazz should be more popular in our culture. Jazz is an American music, it couldn’t have been made anywhere else. Why shouldn’t we teach it in school? Jazz very much should be taught in U.S History.
Without music I would be lost. I couldn’t imagine myself without Jazz. At this moment, as I write this, I’m listening to the song “There Is No Greater Love,” from your album “Way Out West.” I have to say, Snoop Dog could be yelling in my face, but songs such as the one I’m listening to now, will speak to me, and move me more than anything else. Kudos, Sonny. There truly is no greater love for you, and many other inspirational and fantastic musicians.
Dear Mr Rollins,
just to let you know that you have been my new tenor sax teacher for one and a half year now and I really appreciate what I’m learning thanks to you.
By the way, you’ve taken over from Mr Getz, who was my only teacher over the past twenty years. My Grand’Ma had bequeathed me a sum of money for my 21st birthday…23 years ago. It did not take me long to decide to buy a Selmer tenor sax and start learning how to play it with the help of a Stan Getz’ record. One of the best decision I ever made in my life. Now the second best one, is likely to be your pupil.
Best wishes from the South of France.
Hi Mr. Rollins,
I would like to say thank you very much for all of the music that you have given the world. Your “Saxophone Colossus” album never gets old, and St. Thomas always gets me dancing!
I was wondering if you still practice and listen to a lot of music, and exactly what do you listen to, or having been listening to lately? Thank you very much in advance.
As a huge jazz fan I would like to thank you for blessing us with your music. I am an 18 year old bassist and have been an avid jazz listener for a few years now. Your music is among my favorites. When I play jazz, rather than just focusing on the technical part of making the music, I feel the music and play what I’m feeling. I feel like jazz is in my soul, it takes me to a happy place and has blessed my life. Thanks for your contributions to such a wonderful art form.
Just wanna say thanks for everything you are doing along all these years for music. Hope we can hear you someday playing in Brazil.
Just a note of thanks from a middle aged guy who grew up rockinrollin only to find other rockinrollin friends with wider tastes….
Tastes that said it was cool to listen to listen to Ella and Louie, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and maybe some Oscar Peterson Trio tossed in…sorry if I’m Mumbling but I was listening to Thelonious Monk and reading about him, and YOUR name kept popping up.
It turns out that you’ve been delighting my ears for years and I’ve never known more than your name and obviously missed the fact that YOU were the one blowing the cool tune on many a recording that I cherish.
My dad is 84 and came for a visit today. I have a problem with the truck I’d love his help with diagnosing. But he’s past the days of helping me with a transmission.
Your website lists no upcoming shows, and I suspect that you may be past the point of me seeing you lay it down live. But while a lot of the others have gone, you have a place for me to say thanks…..
So, THANKS! for showing a rock, and eleven bar blues, lover that there is a JAZZ universe out there, with no limits!
Thanks Again and Peace!
I’m a passionate Saxophonplayer and I love your wonderful saxophonplay, this is for me greatest inspiration! Please, can you send me a mail with your effective autograph-adress?
I will send you a letter.
Thank you. Best wishes for you!!!
I am a young trombone player in Seattle. Who want to learn how to improvise. I was wondering if you could teach me or give me pointers or give me stuff to work on for improvisation. When i practice or take a chorus at a jam session it does not come out how i want it to, and it does not sound like me, and sometimes i just want to quite. I would be real thankful if you could help me, or teach me the way you were taught.
For me you are a friend who don’t know me.
I’m from Israel, playing alto to Bari to Tenor (those days).
I want to know if there are sheets – original – written by you, that I can get my hand on – purchase, I am practicing a lot, and dedicating a lot for music, and I need to have those treasures in my collection or maybe by heart. You have a big heavy influence on my playing and I need this music-notes. I’ve tried to transcribe some, but I feel like I need the real stuff.
I would be so grateful to read from you,
I hope God will give you lot more years and health to keep and influence so many people all over the globe.
best wishes and kind regards,
Dear Sonny Rollins,
My name is Guapo, and I’m a seventeen year old jazz drummer and student on my way to find my path in life. I developed a love for Jazz music my freshman year and I’ve kept up trying to copy the masters like Elvin and Blakey, but also making sure to let my own experiences and ideas come out as I play. I’ve gained a lot of confidence listening to the Bop and post-Bop eras of music. It’s really shaped who I’ve become in the last few years. I’ve found a lot of joy in the way you’ve played, and also how you followed your path in life, and had the confidence, or whatever it took, to leave it and take your hiatus to find your inner voice.
I’m a huge fan, and I’d love to talk sometime. Whether it be music, or life, or just whatever wisdom you feel you can pass along to a youngster trying to make his way out here.
Keep doing you, Sonny. And, by all means, feel free to email me with whatever you want to pass along. Hope all is well with you.
Hello Mr Rollins,
Wishing you a happy 85th birthday and many, many more to come.
As the owner of eight of your records that span six decades, I can say that your music has always had so much feeling, no matter what or when it may have been, and that your music and your wisdom have had a profound influence on my own playing.
I would love to see you in concert one day, in or around Southern British Columbia, Canada.
I hope that we keep hearing your wonderful and unique music for many years to come.
Happiest 85 to you! I am at the Detroit Jazz Festival this weekend, where we all wish you were now, as you’ve been so many times in the past. Back when the Festival was the “Detroit-Montreux” Jazz Festival, they used to call you “Mr. Montreux” around here.
I’m finally taking the plunge and moving to (near) NYC. I played at the Small’s and Fat Cat jams this summer, got a lot of compliments on my playing (including from pianist Johnny O’Neill), and it was great! Since my brother lives in Saugerties, I can hang at his place for a (New York!) minute until I find digs.
Peace, happiness, etc.!
PS: You were my “52nd ‘birthday present’ when you played Detroit’s Orchestra Hall in 2010. Got to hang with you backstage for a bit.
– Jeffrey S. Newton (tenor saxophonist from Detroit)
Many good wishes on your 85th birthday. May it be filled with music and all the things you love and that sustain you.
Hi Mr. Rollins,
I cannot begin to say how much your music has moved me and shaped me as a person. I am 15 years old, and your music is the reason I made it through freshman year, and is why I continue to pursue saxophone and composition as a career. I hope that one day I can have the same effect that that you had on me, on someone else.
I wish you nothing but the best.
While a bit late, my wish that you had a great 85th. Birthday could not be more well intended. May you have many more, as there appears to be no end to your ever evolving great spirit and contributions to music in general and Jazz music in particular!!! The dedication that you have shown to your art is uplifting and inspiring; a great example for anyone wishing for the enlargement of the human spirit. Thank you for your offering to both young and aged, but especially to the young who can witness in you the achievement of excellence owing to focus and dedication. SALUTE!!!
Hi Mr Sonny Rollins, I’m a brazilian student of Jazz… I can’t speak very well but I will endeavor to speak to you !
I love Jazz, And my dream is play like You someday ! I need some tips, to my live,I know that I need to be patient, But I have fear, I Sing the solos everyday,(straight no chaser, So what, autumn leaves, Half nelson, The chicken) trying to “gain” vocabulary. But I feel that something is missing !!! I train Phrases with 16 or 32 notes, I train disappear with metronome and clapping my foot as well as Thelonious Monk , or almost.
I heard Bill Evans saying that learning is step by step according to their difficulties, then so I hope I will get to be a champion like you.
If you can speak to me at Hangouts someday ! I will be happy.
I’ve been listening to you, Dexter, and John ever since I first picked up a sax in 1967. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get my fix and your music is just as fresh as the day it was recorded. It inspires and uplifts my spirit every day. I recently had a chance to hear some young jazz musicians at Cliff Bells in Detroit and its great that the tradition of great jazz continues.
Thanks for all your priceless contributions to the world.
Dear lovely SONNY ROLLINS !
Let me call you so and the reason is that first I heard you in far,far 1962-s,when your disk ” What’s New ? ” ( Oh ! SONNY ROLLINS ! ) appeared.I was shocked.I opened something new for me,something unknown at that it was unlike the other music,music which being unlike the other,impressed me,by it sinkere kindness.And when I saw your photo,can’t forget it till nowadays.Every time, having got your next disk with great difficully,as the prices were and remain today too high(but usually it takes a lot of time before we can listen to your next disk) I immersed in your music world and imagined as if,I were together with you. Unforgettable time!
You had everything on your way:success and disappointment,but the time proved that your are “the qiants of music”! I am glad with to every you success still many ,many years.I always wanted to know about your as much.I’m interested in both:your life and work.Will you,please help me ,if it’s possible to know more about you not only as a musitian but as a person.We can understand music though the musitians thoughts and soul even if we don’t understand the words in English.I would like to speak with you about everything. But it’s a pity it’s not possible to write everything in a letter. A letter is the only means communication with you…The only hope to meet you and to speak with you it’s your concert. But in fortunately it’s very difficult.Heardly I when nor be able arrive in Europe and USA single hope if you will arrive in Russia,we without fall a meet.Dreams… It is difficult for you to understand as it was earlier in the USSR (Soviet Union), with what difficulties to us the nextn albums of you reached. I remember those times when each new album got with the big work. Now them it is possible the find – truth bad piracy copies from China. In expensive dear shops it is possible to order and buy original disks, but they cost stand even more expensively the present true price… Now much has changed, I could see you “alive” in video, but remained as before impossibility to receive the autograph of you. I always dreamed, if not you then though musician you which works I really love and with pleasure I listen when some day will come and in my small world of the admirer you as a photo with his its autograph. But apparently it only dreams – miracles simply do not happen, and if are that only for ” the elected public. But all the same, my love tomusic you remain with me for ever. And let dreams will not come true, but I trusted, and the belief and hope die the last… .My letter means you have reached,but I hoped to receive from your autograph-for me it is a limit dreams.With music of you I have lived the most part of the life and I wanted to have a part of this life having touched again by those unforgettable years of our youth by which part and were you.Forgive me,if I am too persevering.The you for me always was and will be that light with what the man lives.The thank for that you is.Let always success and our love will be with you.
Dear lovely SONNY ROLLINS ! I’m very sorry,but I have a request for you.Will you please send me your photo with your original autographs or just an answer on my letter.For me it would like… a present equal “the flight to the moon”! Oh,GOD!But it’s just a dream,I even can’t hope for it.There are no miracles in reality!? Having finishing my letter let me wish you everything a person can wish to his friends:a successful work and a lot of happiness in your life,and also to continue gladden your admirers with your songs.Thank the time thas has presented us such a wonderful great musician and man. I want you to be happy and always young!We love and always will be with you.
Ever’ your Helen.
P.S.Excuse me,please my English. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
My address : Helen Zavadsky
33 -149 Tuchachevsky Street
Hi Sonny!hoping you are well! I just wanted to Tell you how much I have enjoyed your music over the years. I first heard you on Saxophone Colossus. it blew my mind. From there I got into The Bridge, followed by your live recoding on milestone with McCoy TynerandRonCarter.You have travelled the globe and may not remember your gig’s in colourful Colorado, but I saw you twice in Boulder.You had the crowd dancing in the aisle’s….. I don’t think the kids attending had ever heard a calypso before! Keep blowing! My next disc will be road shows, likely a Christmas present to myself.Wishing you peace…
Mr. Rollins, your music has greatly inspired me for a good amount of my time playing. The first songs I heard of yours was Strode Rode and You Don’t Know What Love Is and ever since I have been sucked into your playing. I started on alto and mainly play it, but ever since I heard you play I have strived to play tenor. I have played a school owned tenor in order to fulfill the drive I have for the instrument, but it had so may problems it is barely in working condition anymore, so I had to stop. As I understand it, you started on alto, and slowly moved to tenor after hearing Coleman Hawkins play. I love playing alto and I do not think I will be giving that up any time soon, but I feel like most of me lies in tenor, and I do not see me getting one in the near future. So I have a few questions. When was the exact moment that you truly realized tenor is for you? Was it difficult to make the full transition on to alto? Did you continue playing alto after that? Thank you.
Hey Sonny! My name’s Jon, and I am a sophomore at a small school in the state of Georgia. I’m a fellow tenor saxophonists, having played on legendary Selmers, just like you! I can play, very well, but, there’s things I lack. For instance, when an opera player sings and has that kind of a Rolling wave in their voice, and I listen to you do that on your sax, how? I do know how to bend the notes to sound more jazzy, but as far as growling or playing jazz as a whole, I’m not too fancy. I’d like your email back to help me! I really want to play for my parents the way you play St. Thomas for example! That bop, that smooth, or that raunchy sound. I just wish one day I can be as good as you and Charlie Parker and the other greats. I want to achieve that Rollins’ sound. Here’s a list of saxes I’ve played on just so I can say yay!
1968 Silver Selmer Mk Vi tenor
2008 Selmer Reference 54 tenor
1996 Yamaha YTS 62
1980 Selmer Super Action 80 Series II
That’s my favorites, but of course the Selmers blow the Yamaha out of the park. Again, I hope you read this and can help me become an even better player. Thank you so much Mr. Rollins.
I just want to say a heartfelt “thank you” of appreciation to you for the amazing work you have done in your life, and the stellar example that you have set us all. I wonder if you know how important and life-enriching this music that you paid such a part in creating has been to so many of us, even people that grew up in a time and place far apart from the years you and your elders and contemporaries spent creating and living jazz music.
Thank you for the words of kindness and encouragement you have sent out via the internet in the last years, to those of us who try to emulate your achievement, the light of the music that you, your elders and contemporaries created, to those of us that try in some way to be part of the beautiful continuum of this music. Thank you for the wonderful recordings you made, even back when you weren’t much more than 20, that continue to delight and inspire us today. Thank you for the songs you wrote that we learn and play at jam sessions, over and over. Thank you for the incredible live performances that left us breathless and in wonder. Thank you for being a source of inspiration and strength, of music, for helping so many people find their own strength to overcome misfortune and hardship, to stay human in a sometimes unkind world.
I know you can’t reply to all the many messages on here, but it makes me happy to think that you read this, that, at least, I got to say “Thank you!” to you.
First of all, surviving to 85 years old tells me that you love life, and you have inner strength, or your just damn lucky.Maybe the Karma and yoga helped you. But I reckon Coleman Hawkins and Santa Claus helped you most of all.
By the way, if you have any spare mouthpieces, you do not need, I would dearly love to try, thanks and God Bless you.
Best Wishes George.
Being realistic you probably don’t read this. I hope you do though. Well, I can’t say enough as to how you influenced me. In fact you were the 1st jazz I ever listened to. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that your legacy is being well lived. I go to a school for the arts in south Florida. Its called New World School of the Arts. Check it out we are pretty good. We go to Essentially Ellington every year. I’m only a 9th grader. Well I know it’s quite a trek for you to come down, but it would mean to world to us as if group, probably change our lives forever, if you could do a master class with us or something like that. Thank you for everything you have done to influence the art I love.
I live in Japan.
I also play the saxophone.
I came to see the Japan Tour.
Someday, I want to listen to your playing.
We will respect the great Sony Rollins.
Your achievements will continue to live with forever.
It is now also want to play.
Ibrahim Maalouf, Lebanese, a nation experiencing already 40 years of war, is playing Autumn Leaves with his students to commemorate the Paris slaughter.
L’esprit de Sonny :-).
A saxophone colossus without a song …
Hi Sonny!! To Day we are celebrating our aniversary and we are listen to your songs and we feel awesome, happy, full of love. Thanks for your magic music . My boyfriend is a Sax player and he do it very very well.i hope someday you can meet each other.
Mr. Rollins, congratulation on your life time achievement award. A long time coming. i am honored just to sign your book. I love U! Thank you for all the wonderful music you have given to us, it has been a privilege. I hope you and the family are enjoying the holidays.
p.s.. “Always B Good 2 urself”
Blessing n Good Health..
What an incredible contribution you have made to the sax, jazz and to music as whole. My faith that God exists is strengthened when I undertake the experience of hearing your music. Wonderful. Sublime.
I’m listening to a Sonny Rollins LP as I type this. Just wanted to tell you how much I’m enjoying it — SonnyMoon for Two, Like Someone in Love, Tchaikovsky theme.
Hope all is well with you.
Listening to your Without A Song. The 9/11 Concert. Absolutely Amazingly.
Sonny (if i may call you that),
I am an aspiring tenor player and a senior in highschool. I have an absolute passion for jazz and hope one day to contribute to the art. You have been an inspiring player in my life who i have looked up too and listened to for solo ideas and just pure insparation! Your work with dizzy in the album sonny side up is absolute perfection. As a listener and player i just want to thank you for everything you have done for saxophone and the art of jazz. Hopefully one day i can see you play.
My chair is stepping
Fretting, jetting, ashes turn to stone
Seeing singing digging
I met you after a show at the Tarrytown Music Hall some 20 years ago now (you were 65). You were so generous to hang around and talk with people who stayed after the show. You signed a copy of Oleo for me that I brought to the show in my back pocket. Knowing the legend of how you practiced on a NY bridge, I asked you if you were familiar with the Simpsons cartoon and the character that played sax on the bridge, and you said, yes, they did call. They said they couldn’t pay you, but they could offer you immortality. I said your music has ensured your immortality to which you responded, “From your mouth to God’s ears!” It’s one of my favorite stories to tell whenever people rave about how great your music is or ask if I have ever heard of you. Your concert at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre a few years later was one of the best musical performances I have ever experienced in any genre. It was truly spiritual.
Thank you for inspiring so many through music and making personal connections part of your journey.
Still a fan of the music and the person.
I am a trumpet player who has been influenced by you and Clifford all my playing life. I try to emulate Clifford, but not directly copy him, just capture the spirit of his playing. His clean living and lifestyle have also directly affected my life. I am very grateful that you have carried on your legacy and Clifford’s in a way, too.
I love your piece Airegin, it is a compelling composition which once I get it in my head cannot stop singing it. I think you had some direct inspiration from God on that one, and maybe St. Thomas, too, like Handel when he wrote the Messiah!
Blessings and all good things to you in the future and THANK YOU for lighting the path with your life and example for all who follow your same road.
I have just reviewed your beautiful acceptance speech and the wonderful collage of photos taken during your Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony at the Apollo. Just wanted to say hello, thank you for the music, and thank you for being the beautiful soul that you are!
Leslie K. Haynes
Sonny , Thanx 10000000 man. still in the groove and that is so cool! just picked up NEWKS TIME a couple of weeks ago.. the tune the surry with the fringe on top… I am sure that you and Philly Joe ‘s spirit will continue to make “SOUL STIRRING” connections wow! HOW KIK ASS CAN A COUPLE OF “CATS” GET? …With Respect WONDERFUL! WONDERUL. Hope All is Well.Will be on the lookout for the new release.
Your music is so amazing! All I could possibly hope for is to see you live at least once!
So will you please tour one last time?
All the blessings in the universe to you. I’m a young saxophonist, I live in Baltimore. My father, Chris, passed away when I was 10 years old and one of my last and greatest memories of spending time with him is when he introduced me to your music and Coltrane’s music, this would have been in 2002. I’m so happy I was able to see you play at the Kennedy Center in 2010. My dad told me he once saw you play (probably in the 70s) and you let him play your saxophone! (He was a saxophonist too.) Must have been a really small gig haha. Anyway, love and blessings and I hope to see you again soon. Currently listening to you play I’ll Remember April. Village Vanguard. Always dancing.
There are very few that truly create something that will change peoples lives..
Very few of you.
Thank you for letting it flow through you the way that you do.
No number of thanks is enough really..
I am a pianist, but more importantly a devoted listener of music. As our world contends with hate, violence and hubris, we need to look to beauty, in art, music and the natural world to find the best in ourselves – to give voice to express the inexpressible and to transform, create and move beyond barrier’s, even when others try to demean or debase such efforts – in your art, your music we have had, and continue to have this beauty and direction. You are one of the surviving linear connections to the wonder of both the past, and the future, and the questions and answers keep coming. The world is/ has been so fortunate to have Sonny Rollins in it, and we will always be looking for both older and newer Rollins recordings, as we are always were we are, listening..
Sonny, I just want to say that you are a huge inspiration to me both musically and for life. Your music, words and spirit keep me focused and on track every day, Thank you so much.
I am the person that wrote a poem for you after the concert in Perugia, Arena St. Giulianna, 2004? I hope that the man of the hotel gived to you.
I play saxophone too, and i love your sound and your music.
My best wishes, and thank you very much, Maestro!
From Galicia-Spain with love.
“Sonny Rollins…” The very name conjures up sun, sand, warm tropical breezes and jazz as smooth and sophisticated as a glass of Glenlivet Scotch! Your latest album sounds awesome! You’re an inspiration.
I am a bass player.
I just want to send you blessings and peace.
You can never comprehend the value your playing has had to me, from my early youth up to now. That is not your business to understand 🙂 Still I would like to acknowledge the meaning and importance it had to me.
Thank you, and Gods blessing.
Your sound makes me feel happy Sonny. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to tell you this: You’re way up there. You belong. I will be 25 years old tommorow and wanted to thank you for your legacy so I may enjoy it and go back to it again and again for the years to come. The essence of what you do has no beginning nor end, which is why it is so precious to me. I see myself talking about you and share your music with the people I love now as well as in the future.
i want you to know that i think about what you said several years ago during a concert at njpac almost every day of my life. you said that you look in the mirror each day and ask yourself if you’re ok and that if you can say yes, then you consider that you are o.k. i adopted that practice immediately, trying always to be like you, like sonny. so you see your example has been extremely important to me as it has also to my son, who is a young saxophone player. if ever we had a chance to see you play again we would consider it among our greatest blessings. i was just looking for such a possibility and don’t see any mentioned either here on your site or on on the internet generally. but i will keep looking. i am a professor of French literature at Rutgers and my son is a student in the Jazz performance program there. thank you so much for everything you have given to us and to all.
I cannot thank you enough for expanding my musical horizons. About twelve years ago I discovered the magic of your music. Shortly after, I got the pleasure of seeing you perform. I made a special trip and flew to Knoxville where I sat front row and had the honor of listening and watching you play. Your music opened my eyes to a new world of Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Dizzy and so many more from that era. Thank you!
Recently I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and it was difficult for me to wake up in the morning. Even when it was spring and the blossoms opened up to the sun, I couldn’t find comfort.
The only thing that brought me solace was music—I would sit on the bus, put on my headphones, close my eyes, and listen to your album “The Sound of Sonny” and Scott Joplin’s rags. Finally, the sun’s rays would find a way through (if only for a moment). Your music grounded my mind and helped me find my way back to my self.
Now I am much better. (Happy endings!) I just graduated high school and I’ve picked up an old trumpet. The first song I learned (you would be proud to know I learned it by ear) was St. Thomas.
Thanks for everything, Sonny. Not only did you help me pull through the mud, but you’ve guided me towards my passions—jazz, writing, and life.
I hope that reading these comments makes you see how beautiful a gift you’ve offered the world. You are officially immortal and infinite, and trust me when I say that countless people will carry on your messages of peace and love forever.
I went to be a writer. I write poetry and I am an environmental activist.
I would be very happy to send you some poems of mine. In fact, I will start working on a poem about you!
Take good care,
I first heard ‘A Night at the Village Vanguard’ in 1979. I was blown away and have been a fan ever since. Inspired to learn to play the tenor saxophone, a lack of self-confidence, talent, and hard work have held me back but my wife believes in me and maybe one day I will pick it up again. Your music has been an important and cherished part of my life and though I lack the vocabulary to analyse and understand it as a musician would, I find there is nothing better than to spend a few hours listening intently to track after track after track.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing you perform in London, England on four occasions, and I hope to see you several times more.
You have a great web site; Bret Primack has put together a great resource for students of your music. I would love to read more about how you chose the names of several tunes – such as Oleo, Doxy, Jungoso, Bluesongo and several others. Or perhaps you have some interesting stories about some tunes? Please consider providing some notes in the FAQ section.
Better still would be that long-awaited autobiography.
With love and respect
Hi Sonny –
I’m a bass player from the high desert in California. I was wondering where the cover of “Way out West” was taken? Murry’s Ranch area maybe? I couldn’t find anything on William Claxtons site about it.
I was a very inspirational album and having you on the cover in our Desert was very inspirational for all us kids that were growing up in a small desert town that was “waaaaay out West”
Thank you so much,
Mr. Rollins—I’m a blues guitarist, but I often tell others who play, “Don’t be afraid to listen to a great saxophonist for broadening your phrasing.” When they ask me whom in particular, I tell them, “Start with Sonny Rollins and go from there.” When they ask me why, I say, “Because there’ve always been jazzmen who never forgot the blues, but when you hear Sonny Rollins play the blues, you’ll hear him sing lyrics with his horn, just as he does with everything else he plays.” Long may you sing!
Thank you for your music. I heard you perform when I was in elementary school and you inspired me to play saxophone. I’ve been playing since (18 years now!).
I hope you’re healthy and living a happy life! You are amazing!
Hello Mr. Sonny Rollins,
I am listening to your St. Thomas and digging it to the max! I’m a 70 yr. old dixieland clarinetist and I must say your tenor playing gives me new life. I started on alto sax is the 4th grade. A few months ago I bought a new tenor and I’m on a mission to absorb some of your great playing. Four years ago I had to have a double lung transplant and I am finally back to where I can play music again. Your music is helping me get my life and my groove back. Thanks so much.
Sincerely, Ron Alexander
I’m playing baglama (anatolian folk instruments) And i’m trying to play mictonal scales on jazz chords for a long years.I believe that music is a whole.I thought maybe you can be interested about it. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1346405522040175&id=121415681205838
Greetings from Istanbul
Zeki Çağlar Namlı
Mr. Rollins, sir:
Just reminiscing to Big Jay, Red Prysock, and Louis Jordan.
While you continue to look for the “Lost Chord,” I’m still trying to find the lost note.
We have a gig at the Woodstock Farmers Market, Wednesday, June 8. We hit at 5 (til 7).
Drop by and say howdy, my theme song is Tenor Maddeness, bring Henrietta.
Hello, as a aspiring tenor sax player, I love your music and think you are a great example for tenor players to come. My favorite song is “God bless the child”, I absolutely love your music, and any tips to improve mine would be highly appreciated, thanks!
Sitting here listening to Pandora’s Cool Jazz Station and there you are, filling my living room with the sound of your tenor saxophone. I’m a musician who plays upright bass, guitar, piano and sings and one who loves to play great standards. In my group some years ago, we played your version of “Everything Happens to Me” just about every set. It would be great to see you play in the New York area. Till then, all the best to you and thank you for all of your great music and for your unique style of playing. I refer to it as “crossing the bar lines”. Kind of like warping the time signature. Love it.
You are amazing, sir — both musically and spiritually. Bless you!
Sonny, thank you for your dedication to the art and the inspiring heights you elevated it to through your devoted work. The purity of your approach, art for art’s sake, the direct emotional expression; its moved millions of us in our lives, and has been a guiding star for myself personally in my life’s work of musical practice & performance; along with my life in general.
I hope you are staying healthy while enjoying your time these days & the fruits of your long labor. You are deeply appreciated.
thank you – jaik willis
Hi sonny just received Road shows Vol 4, many thanks , its beautiful, best wishe from the south of England. I had a heart attack on March 1st and know some thing of your breathing difficulties at times , but getting better slowly and music like this brightens any and every day. thanks again for all the recordings I have by you and the work put into them and all the live shows I saw in London.
I love you’re music. I like how you express music through you’re horn. I never get tired of listening to you’re songs. In fact, every time I listen to it, I make new discoveries. I wish you would be able to visit Japan again. But anyways, please keep on playing, and make new influences. I think you’re amazing.
Mr.Sonny Rollins, I would like to begin by apologizing for my English very poor and I write all this helping me with a translator. I introduce myself hoping she Mr.Rollins read everything that I write for her and for me, I’m a young Sicilian boy, I’m 21 years old and, for two years now with his music I fell in love or perhaps dare I say “found “jazz in my life. I will tell you thank you because if I found myself this music in me is thanks to her album SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS. So I worked hard and I bought an old Italian saxophone. self-study, I can with my ear to go out note by note licks, solos and themes. I help by slowing down and listening to the song, not just what you are playing but also because you are playing. The truth, which is what leads me to write all this, is: I was mocked and criticized by local musicians (while playing the sax by even 9 months) telling me that I would never come to a certain level for the age that I . I ask advice even more than one, I played other instruments with good results but not thorough because I felt that maybe it was not the right tool for me. How can I go on? I believe in what I do and if I have a dream to be realized is just that, to express everything that goes through my head. Jazz is in my head, but I can not carry it into the instrument. I will not stretch too much this speech but this is a small part of what I would say. I do not know if I will respond. I wish the good life and a good day. thank you so much for its music Mr. Rollins. Lorenzo Carpinteri.
我了解 那些音阶 和弦 曲式。
但是 我对于即兴 却总是 找不到位置
这个问题 该如何解决 这个问题困扰我太久了。
希望 您能帮我解答。 谢谢
My name’s Maleigh and I’m and 14 year old tenor sax player. I am currently in a jazz band through our school and I have to say with only eight of us we’re pretty jamming! My music teacher assigned us to create a fact sheet about a jazz musician so I decided to choose someone of the same instrument that I play. Your name was on the list among many others so I decided yeah he sounds pretty cool. At the time little did I know I was researching one of the most legendary tenor sax player. I have decided to pick of the piece St. Thomas and I will try to get my jazz band to play one of your songs. You’ve inspired me as a musician and how to rock and improvised solo!
Keep on rocking!
Dear Mr. Rollins,
Like the hundreds of fans, Jazz lovers and admirers, who left messages before me, I want to simply thank you for leaving myself and everyone else a tremendous body of art music that we can enjoy for many, many years to come! I consider myself a long-time listener and student of Jazz music, having fallen in love with recordings of Louis Armstrong when I was 13. Now I am 48, and over those years, I listened intimately to many saxophonists from different periods of Jazz history – Sidney Bechet, Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Paul Desmond, Harold Land, Roland Rashan Kirk, Johnny Griffin, Booker Ervin, John Handy, Archie Shepp, Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderly, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. All of these great saxophonists artists gave me so much beautiful music to experience. And so did Sonny Rollins! I first can remember him playing the tune “I want to be happy” with Thelonious Monk and it was my sunshine song. It made me happy because of that ebullient spirit and lyrical courage generated by you. Your musical is so accessible to even the casual listener and will always astound the afficionado :). You are a true improvisor using that amazing inventory of melodies, phrases and swinging themes. I have seen you play live in Troy Music Hall and you gave the audience every ounce of your musical energy and did not hold back. Your music has uplifted my spirits in times of duress and sadness and pushed my creative inspiration to learn how to play the saxophone in my later years. You endured so much adversity from white racism and cultural intolerance, but your music continues to sing of Joy and the indomitable spirit of Freedom via the Jazz vehicle. I love your music and your conplete honesty about what Jazz is and your reasons for playing music. Most of all, I have love for you for everything you have given your audience and listeners. You leave us with love in our hearts for a music that sings of Freedom!
Thanks for being such an inspiration for musicians like myself, both past and present. Your music has truly shaped the way I play as a saxophonist and my outlook on music in general. Your words on music as a profession have inspired me to pursue a career in teaching and performing jazz,
Sonny– I have written to you twice and you responded both times. Once I requested a song and you played it at a concert in Vancouver in 2007 (it was “And Then My Love I Found You”). You even mentioned the request at the concert. This time, I’m writing to thank you for the release of “Holding the Stage.” This is my favorite of your “road shows” recordings. I’ll try to articulate why. First, I love the inclusion of “Disco Monk.” It’s just a fun tune to listen to–very accessible–but the concept behind it seems interesting. The switching back and forth from the upbeat/out there/extroverted/let’s-go-dancing mindset to the reflective/ruminative/what’s-life-really- all-about mindset is striking. And I’m glad you let the reflective perspective have the last word. But also you’re doing something interesting with pop music in that tune. You’re playing pop music in a sense, in the “disco” sections, but you’re adding something to it. You’re playing pop music without being co-opted by it. I think there’s something significant there. Another highlight for me is the series of three tracks at the end, recorded in Boston just after 9/11. The sound quality isn’t ideal, of course, and I’m sure that you and your sound man (maybe him more than you) agonized over that. But, you know, I think it’s appropriate in a way. I remember taking photographs of autumn foliage in the Berkshires when we lived in that area–and the photographs could never capture the experience of actually being there. When you were actually there, you saw the whole thing–what you were directly looking at plus what you could see with your peripheral vision, and somehow the photographs couldn’t duplicate that effect. I like that–I mean, that you can’t really make a copy of lived experience. Anyway, it’s something like that with the recordings at the end of “Holding the Stage”–the sound quality itself isn’t ideal, and I doubt if the recordings themselves exactly duplicate what the music actually sounded like at the time, but the energy and inspiration are evident, and we can use our imaginations to complete the experience. Anyway, thank you so much, Sonny, for surviving through the years with your soul intact. It couldn’t have been easy.
my name is Martin and my dream is to meet you. I am from Czech Republic, saw your concert last time, maked me happy and inspired.
The idea is that i would love to come to you, just play a song for you (i play tenor saxophone a lot, even though i am not known at all, i love it, i studied sax in schools also) maked from our classical roots combined with afroamerican music inspiration, you are my hero, love your sound.
Also i would like to bring you a little present and told you about my grandfather because you remind me him so much.
I would like to record my version of Oleo on my next record. How do I go about doing that?
I want to make sure I have permission, etc.
You’re the best
I cannot thank you enough for what you bring to the Jazz world. I am a 14 year old jazz musician. I play the tenor sax and listen to your recordings all the time. I was wondering if you could give me some tips on improving my jazz saxophone playing. Thanks again for the wonderful music you create.
Hi Sonny, I was just enjoying playing my Tenor this afternoon and wanted to thank you for being a great inspiration ever since I discovered your music as a student in the 80s. Your attitude to music and constant search for ways to improve are such a good example to anyone setting out to be a player. St Thomas was the first tune I ever learned sitting on a park bench in Nottingham and I have loved your music ever since. All the best to you, I hope you are well and happy
Dear Mr. Rollins
I picked up the tenor sax a year ago and am moving fast. I had a teacher, George Benson in Detroit. He suffered from dementia and recently had a stroke. I stayed with him as long as I could just because I felt he needed to teach. I played a lot of sad songs in that room. Its not like the old days where you can find the best players and soak up everything you can. I don’t know how far I can go with this, I just know how it makes me feel. I try hard to get on that theory, learn the chords, the modes, but I find myself continuing to drift into learning by ear, playing along to Billie Holiday and listening to Parker, trying to understand the personality of the man through the notes. Should I just stick to the theory and forget about just learning by ear. Maybe I’m doing myself a disservice. What is your advice?
I love your work, it’s amazing!
Today I was listening Saxophone Colossus. Man…
I play tenor for a short time and my teacher says “lesson one: listen the great tenor players, beggining to Sonny!”
I have a old Buescher Big B, from 1946.
God bless you Sonny and give you health and peace!
Hugs from Brazil.
I was watching a documentary about you on tv and as soon as she listened to your music, my little Maia (2 years old) told: “pick me up dad, i want to dance”.
And so we danced laughing till the music stopped and she said “what’up dad?!” and pouted.
God bless you, this is what you do!!!
Hi Sonny, I admire you a lot. I know your history, your hard route to the success. I’m studying music, clarinet, and I have a dream, to arrive where you are now. You are one of the best saxophonists like now. I’m sorry for my English, I’m italian
To better hope
Thank you for compositions, for your playing and at least: thank you. for being still around. I hope I get the chance to see you.
Are you coming to europe some time?
Hi Master, how do You do?
I heard You a couple of times many years ago (in the 80s) in my city – Ravenna, Italy -, a great emotion …
I think I must have a bootleg at least of one of these concerts, tell me if it can be of some interest for You.
Many compliments and thanks from Italy whose jazz fans can’t stand to love You as You deserve.
Sonny- Sending you big love on your day. Hope that life in the new house is good and that our paths cross again, sooner rather than later. I still treasure every moment, really.
Your kindness, beauty and strength still cast a long and beautiful shadow on all and everything.
Just down the road-
Your music is so soulful and swinging! Your husky tenor sound and awe-inspiring creative ideas fill my heart with happiness and inspiration! I am a high school student in Connecticut and our jazz band is currently playing St. Thomas (Michael Mossman arrangement) and sounds awesome. Our jazz band in past years has won the Essentially Ellington competition and Berklee School of Music competition numerous times, and last year we won at Berklee. We produce a nationally acclaimed show every year called Pops ‘n Jazz, where singing dancing, and a big band come together to produce a magical show. In the past, artists such as Phil Woods, Arturo O”Farrill, Ted Nash, as well as alumni (Joel Frahm, Brad Mehldau and Kris Allen (under JMac at JMac Institute of Jazz)) have all performed at our show. I know you are quite busy, but If you ever had some time to come perform at the show (there are several in March) just for one night, that would be amazing! If you cannot, then I totally understand. If nothing else, I just want you to know that you are the man!
Happy Birthday Sonny! Thanks for your beautiful music. Jazz has brought people closer together since it’s genesis, and you’ve been a huge part of that. You should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished dear Sonny! You’re an amazing musician and beautiful person.
Thanks for all the years of beautiful music and for the future too! Do you have plans to come to France? I would love to see you live. I bought a Tenor recently as you are a source of inspiration for me.
My name is Ahsa Ahla. I am a percussionist residing in Atlanta, Georgia at present. My background and studies have been in Jazz. I was a Jazz Performance Major at William Patterson University some years ago. I also attended the Jazz Mobile for years early in my percussion playing days under the tutor-ledge of Richie Pablo Landrum. Kimati was a very dear friend of mine. We played together often through 1980 to 1987. If you are ever looking for a percussionist it would be an honor to be considered. I may also be found on YouTube under “Wudasse” which was an Ethio-Jazz project I had in 2006. Thank You.
Ahsa Ahla (404) 454-8305
My name is Kwami, and I’m a pianist and composer from Harlem. I was recently commissioned to write a short biographical piece about your life and work for an exhibition in New York City called “Friskin’ Whiskers.” It came out in the form of a poem, so I wanted to share it with you. Hoping this finds you well, and that we will meet one day.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
SONNY ROLLINS, SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS
Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus; he’s been exploring the innards and outer realms of the saxophone since music became modern. A Harlem boy, born on September 7th, 1930, who first picked up the alto after Louie Jordan, he moved on to study Pops and Fats, and most eagerly absorbed the Bean. Through the Hawk, his tenor changed at sixteen, but Sonny followed the Bird despite his lower range. The Monk of Modern Music soon after became his abiding sphere of influence, and Rollins kicked it with Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew, and Art Taylor while they kicked it, finding Babs, J.J., Earl Bud, and a not-so Little Dewey before rolling into twenty. Creatively fertile, brash, and handsome, Rollins made an impression, stepping into the Vanguard while maintaining a strong reputation in Sugar Hill. Life reasons took the man to Chicago until 1955, but he hit the New York scene clean again with Brownie and Roach, and with “Blue 7” even had the head of the Third Stream talking about Son being able to surmount the challenges of “Thematic Improvisation.”
Looking like a pitcher, Newk’ made it hot with Valse but, in 1956, made them mad with Prestige. He brought the Indies West up North with “St. Thomas,” a calyp so good you’ve heard it a thousand times, but Way West was his first step Out that we have on record. He shook off the hype between 1959-61, practicing while looking East on Billyburg’s Bridge until he could make sure he had his thing together. That wind blew him in the direction of the “new thing” in the early 60s; What’s New never scared Sonny, and despite the night’s thousand eyes, he experimented, remaining Our Man In Jazz for decades to come. With the courage to keep searching, and a commitment to his art and craft, Sonny, blessed by lady Lucille, put out the Next Album after next, earning his first of two Grammys at 70 because of what he do. Regaled with awards, celebrated as a Jazz Master, member of the Arts and Science Academy, and honored with an Austrian cross, Rollins, who dapped Barry in 2011, still got the Doxy to put it out, and we’re thankful he’s still blowing with us today.
© kwami coleman 2016
I’m starting to study your play on ‘Strode Rode’ – Saxophone Colossus! I love the feel!
Dear Mr. Rollins: Since I was a very young tenor saxophonist, I have greatly enjoyed and been enriched by your music. One of my best memories as a child was seeing you perform at Lehman College in the early 1980’s. I approached you after the show and asked you some questions about your music and your horn. You were very kind, you even let me handle your Mark VI and signed my program, adding the quote “a horn man is always a great man”. While I don’t play professionally, I do still play frequently today, thanks in great part to your inspiration. In my adult life, I recently have been introduced to yoga practice. The intersection of music and yoga practice is fascinating to me. I would appreciate an opportunity to speak with you about yoga practice and music if there is ever time in your schedule. Very truly yours – Jason
Dear Sonny, I attended the event at Jazz at Lincoln Center tonight honoring Jimmy Heath. It was a very special moment to see you on the stage with your friend Jimmy. I was touched by the moment as I remembered my dad and his love of the music and the musicians around him. The tenor sax was my dad’s instrument as well. My dad was Illinois Jacquet and I remember him speaking of you. It was indeed and honor to see you tonight.
Sad news about Bob Cranshaw passing away today, 11/2/2016. Bob and Sonny always played so well together. R.I.P. Mr. Cranshaw. I’m glad I got to see you many times with Sonny.
Dear Mr. Rollins:
I can only imagine what you must be feeling now: long-time colleague, band stalwart Bob Cranshaw gone. Earlier, Lucille, then the ‘malady’—doubtless spurred from a desire to do what you know to do best (play the horn, naturally) after toxic dust spread following an evil attack on our nation. You were brave and spiritually right to perform right to opt to continue performing in that period. You said ‘Maybe music can help. We have to try SOMETHING’. So true.
Sonny Rollins is a man who uses notes, rhythms, etc. at the service of not only music, but the evolved idea that music is a celebration of life. I celebrate your 86 years and all you have accomplished and inspired others like my self to. Know that we all do and love you.
Stay strong, man.
Joel Fass (guitarist-songwriter)
I just want to tell you that I dearly love your music, and that it was when I first heard you that I felt, for the first time, that I understood what jazz was all about. I can remember the moment; I was watching the documentary ‘The Story of Blue Note’, and I saw a clip of a solo of yours, which I later found out was from the interlude between ‘Darn That Dream’ and ‘Three Little Words’ from your concert film ‘Live in Denmark ’65’. Something about that joyful solo, and the proceeding beautiful variations on the ‘Three Little Words’ theme, sang to me. It was one of the sincerest epiphanies I’ve had in my life. You are a sublime artist and spirit.
I’m writing this message as a sort of thank you for everything that you have done for the world of jazz and the world of music. I first heard ‘St. Thomas’ around two years ago when I was 13, and it was one of the first jazz songs I ever heard. That was when I decided to pick up the tenor saxophone. I’ve been playing ever since. And I still marvel at your talents. The countless stories I’ve heard about you all amaze me, but one in particular stands out.
In 1953, you played with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and you recorded ‘The Serpent’s Tooth (take 1)’. At the 3:03 mark, you quoted the classic tune ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’ as what I assume was a direct challenge towards Bird, who was playing tenor for that recording. Could you possibly elaborate on your thought process at the time? Did he react to it when you played it?
Any response would be greatly appreciated.
Hi. Sonny. I love music. Love jazz. Love sax. Drum. Piano. I have many musicians friends from all of the world. I live in Beijing. I love your sax. I hope I can have the chance to see you play the sax someday. Awesome master! Although I know it’s difficult for me. Take care!
i just want to say you thanks. Heartfelt thanks for all your music and life.
I simply would like to say thank you for the music you have shared with the world. I enjoy sitting down with my records and focusing intently on music. You have shared wonderful times with me.
I know your for your music. Beyond that, I want you to know that you are a so much more. You are a special person, not because of what you do, but because you were created by God, and He loves you very much. This is a message that I have for everyone in the world, but right now it is for you.
All the best-
I just really wanted to leave something here for you, and I really wanted you to know that you’re the absolute biggest inspiration for me. I work everyday at playing to be best I can be. I just really wanted you to know that you’re reason I do that. You’re music moves me and makes better and I feel great once I hear you play. You’re an amazing person and your legacy will live on forever! Thank you for everything you have done to inspire me to be the best I can be. I am forever grateful.
First, I just want to say thank you for the incredible music! Also, I would like to thank you for all the great interviews that you’ve given. Some of them are really indescribable.
If you have the time, I would love to hear what you have to say to any or all of my questions.
How do you communicate with the people you play for when you are performing? How do you go towards your subconscious?
What was specifically so special about Coltrane’s playing and personality?
What did you think of Eric Dolphy as a musician and as a person?
Thank you for your time and I hope you are feeling well.
Happy Holidays & Stay Warm …Any Plans to Return to My Sweet Home Chicago in 2017?? Would Love to See You Again & Meet You.
Peace, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017 BROTHER!!!!
Danny Guitar Rogers
Chicago Blues Musician
It is a pleasure to know that you might read my words and know that I exist.
I am a conflicted and struggling university student attempting to learn how to understand music. It feels like, though they profess love for music, that many of my professors are more like mercenaries than artisans and, as their student, that does not make them credible in my eyes. I just don’t trust them. I think their perspectives on music are simplistic and formulaic and their sight is clouded by ‘styles’. I can’t tell if I am looking at music and music education from the flawed point of view and that my opinions of what and how they are teaching are naive or if the traditions they speak of are distorted by privilege and the desire for commercial success. Could you lend me some wisdom so that I might find some resolution on this issue?
I really admire your, at least as I see it, your desire to stand on your own. To not rely on rhythm sections to patch holes in ability and of coarse the legends of you and The Bridge. To me you are the epitome of independence and longevity and I suspect that comes from an ability to prepare. I feel that I am spinning my wheels and pushing energy into unproductive and potentially harmful channels. I don’t know how to prepare. I know how to half-ass some bullshit. I fear that I tarnish the work of those that came before me but many of them were gone before I showed up. I learned what I know about music the new way. From books, from schools, from screens but what I feel I need is not just advice on how to play music but how to live life. Would you be my master, my guru? I want be Sonny Rollin’s shadow, even if for just a short while.
Thanks for being you. I hope to hear from you but regardless, I wish you the best of health and happiness.
With great respect and deep admiration,
Peace and blessings, wow I am listening to you as I write, inspiring. Great tone, hey you don’t need my critique. Just wishing you a Happy Holiday season. Always positive keep going.
Hallo Sonny, it was a great concert in the Victoria Hall in Geneva/Switzerland before many years ago. I’m a great fan for you since more than 40 years now. You send me a photography from him with a sign to me, it is in my room it’s so great. I wish you all the best and good health. Sincerly and friendly Gillis/ Jazzagillis
Happy 2017 Sonny.
Next to my desk in my den at home here in Canada (I’m retired) is a beautiful framed print of Harlem 1958. I look at Benny Golson and you every day. When visitors ask about the print I point out Benny and you and tell them you two are our only remaining links to a wonderful group of jazz musicians from a wonderful period in time.
I’d love to see PBS host a Harlem 1958 reunion. Long overdue.
I wish you good health for many years to come.
ps. At this minute I’m listening to you play Solitude.
Two words: The Legend, immortal…thanks for life.
Dear Mr. Rollins, I am the son of Agnes Henderson. Her mother, Marjorie Vanterpool, and your mother went to school together in St. Thomas. The friendship continued when both families moved to Harlem. My mother talks fondly of her childhood memories with your family. She and her sister Sandy were friends with your sister Gloria. My mother is a remarkable woman who’s led an extraordinary life, from Harlem to Paris to Switzerland. I am writing a book about her. Would you be willing to share your memories of the Henderson family? On a musical note, your take on Decision is a wonderful standard to me. It was one of the songs that inspired my efforts to become a tenor saxophone player. With respect and admiration, Jean-Edouard
Dear Mr Rollins
I am greatly inspired by your music. I am 15 and have been playing the sax for 5 years and your music has guided me. I am writing asking for guidance as to where in jazz I should go and what I should aim for in the future. I hope to see you in London soon.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
I am a huge fan of yours. I am a student at South Medford High School in Medford, Oregon and am currently playing tenor saxophone in our developmental jazz band.
As an esteemed professional, I was wondering if you had any tips for a aspiring musician. Currently, I am working on improving my improvisation school, and, as you are a highly skilled musician, if you had any tips or habits you used when you were developing, if you would be so kind to share, I would be extremely grateful.
Thank you for your time.
I’d just like to thank you for being such a blessing and inspiration. Your music has made a profound impact on my life more than words can express. Just the thought of knowing you may read this message brings me great joy. I have grown up listening to your music since childhood and wanted you to know that no matter the situation I can always turn to your music to bring me back to a place of solidarity. Thank you for the contribution you’ve made to music. I wish you all the best.
My boyfriend Dylan plays tenor saxophone and you are his favorite musician and a great inspiration for him. His birthday is coming up, and it would be the greatest gift if he could get a message from you. He is a Jazz Studies major at UCF and puts so much of his life to studying music. He gets discouraged and frustrated sometimes because he has to struggle to be successful. I believe in him so much, and a message from an idol like you would really lift his spirits. Dylan loves jazz with all his heart and I want him to do what he loves. If you ever have the time, my email is email@example.com; it would mean a lot to me to surprise him.
Thank you so much,
Sonny, thanks for inspiring young musicians and music lovers every day. It’s because of the words of people like you that jazz is alive and well!
Thank you for all that you have done, for music, and for the world. You’re work on this earth goes far beyond the bounds of sound, and for that, I admire you before all else.
As a musician, and as a teacher, you have inspired me to use the little influence that I have to not only help educate better musicians, but better people. Thank you for being my inspiration, and helping me understand whats important in the world.
First of all, I just want to tell you how inspiring you have been for me and that because of you and from listening to a lot of your recordings and those of your peers, I have been (yes I am going to use it again) inspired to pursue music as a career. I now play the tenor saxophone, which I have pretty much just gotten into in the last year after many many years of playing the clarinet, and to be honest I find it much more enjoyable. Also with picking up the saxophone I rediscovered this genre called “Jazz”, which I had been “playing” for quite some time now in various bands, but hadn’t really known anything about it. It intrigued me how something so ‘old’ (relative to my 16 year old self) could sound so fresh and new (and quite frankly a lot more musical than much of the commercially driven electronic music that is being mass produced today). I started listening to jazz pretty much all of the time, purely because it’s so enjoyable to listen to.
This brings me to something that I want to share with you about the early stages of I guess what you call my “Jazz education”, before I had a tutor teaching it to me. I can remember sometime last year after probably a few months of listening to jazz and associated genres, sitting down at the piano during my music lessons at school after we had finished for the day, and playing improvised duets with one of my mates who used the other piano in the room. He would generally play chords and I would play melodies over the top of them (not being a trained pianist, I didn’t really have the dexterity necessary to play the chords and improvise over the top myself). And I just find it funny looking back on that and realizing that I actually had no idea what I was doing, in a sense. I wasn’t thinking “Oh this is an A major 7 chord, I better play a G sharp or a C sharp in this bar” or anything remotely like that. It was just pure music and I just connected with it on such a primitive level. Of course I would play a note every now and then that didn’t sound right, but I didn’t even consciously think about how that note was wrong over that chord (mostly because I didn’t really know were we where most times, I just knew what it sounded like), I just didn’t play it again. The music we played was simple, but it sounded pretty good at the same time. I just find it interesting how much I picked up purely from listening to people like you play without formally learning anything about improvisation yet.
I just thought you might find it interesting how people can connect to jazz and improvisation at such a primitive level and get so much enjoyment out of the music they are making, without really knowing what they are doing on a technical level.
I realize now that this is a bit longer than I expected it to be, but I would like to make one last comment. When I first listened to you early last year, I remember thinking you were some kind of god. I mean, how can someone play so good and be human right. But I have recently watched/listened to a bunch of your interviews, and I have come to the conclusion that you are not a god as I thought. Rather, you are probably the most human person I know (in a good way). And I know that this is how you want to be remembered, and I can assure you that it is how I will always remember you.
My name is Aaron Robles. I am 33 years old and live in Oakland California.
I have a been a fan of yours for the past eight years. My appreciation for your work, and jazz music, began when my Dad gave me an original vinyl copy of ‘The Bridge’. My first listening experience with the album launched my affinity for jazz and compelled me to begin playing the tenor saxophone too.
Even more so, I was captivated by your rendition of God Bless the Child. Your sound on that recording had a profound effect on me as a person and is a moment I won’t ever forget.
With that in mind, I wrote you a letter detailing my experience with your music and its effect on my life. I have emailed a copy of the letter to Mr. Primack in hope that you will review it. Also, I made the letter a part of my personal blog site to share your work with those who may not be familiar with it. Here is the link: https://832webster.com/.
In case you do not have the chance to read my letter, I want to say thank you for all your tremendous work. Your music continues to mean a lot to me, and I am forever grateful for the positive impact it has had on my life.
Here’s hoping that this note finds you in better health.
When the thought about writing on your comment page first came to mind I was worried about three things. Would I embarrass you? Would this come off as a shameless self promotion? Is it corny? Let’s go one a at a time
The Sonny Rollins Bridge! No doubt you laughed when you first heard this, then felt humbled by the proposal and more than likely not worthy of such a honor. I hope you can put your humility on the back burner and let the folks who are trying to do this, do it! It would not only honor NY’s favorite Jazz son (and your greatness!) but also lay claim to the long history of the AMERICAN ART FORM in NY. When people ask, “Who is Sonny Rollins” as they cross the bridge, all of us who love your music will gladly fill them in. Embarrassed yet? GOOD!!! Still, it would be a wonderful thing if it ever happened.
Twenty years ago I met you at a JAZZTIMES convention in NYC when the magazine honored you. I stood in line and you signed my copy of WAY OUT WEST and then got back at the end of the line and asked you if you would come on my radio show. You did and the following year as well, both taped over the phone that were aired around Xmas. To this day I still play the promo you made for my gig! Here is the shameless plug. Still there! Rutgers University Radio, 26 years and counting! (Worked at WBGO from 2001-2008 as well.) Would love you to come back on, if you want. You got my email with this so I hope you do, no worries if you don’t. You and all who read this are invited to listen in, Friday’s 7am-noon online at wrsu.org
Forgive the plug but there are so few places to hear Jazz on the radio that I hope you don’t mind.
Lastly, my thanks to you. Your music and the inspiration that your compositions and playing, live and recorded, that has moved me for over 40 years. This may sound corny coming from a sixty year old man but if I have anything close to an idol at this late stage of my life it would be Kenny G!!! But seriously, THANK YOU, for your time and kindness to me in the past.
Peace & all that JAZZ…………john j. cooper
Hallelujah Mr. Rollins!
Poland, 1.30 AM
With barely any money I attended a gig of yours ..I guess ’twas 64 or so
At Ronnie Scott’s old place. Pete king let me in free…you started your set in the artists tiny room and continued as you walked towards the stage ..I think you did not take another breath for 30 mins or so..your circular breathing a revelation. Just thought to recall that evening while my partner put on an old cd of you and monk….
Best wishes may you blow for many a year yet…
Sonny, I know you played a “Super 20” years ago. I’ve played a Super 20 since 1973 and the finish is fairly shot. I am thinking of having gold plate put on. Any ideas from you about how the horn would change? I really like the big low end my Super 20 has. Would that be lost? Any comments from you about the whole idea or specifics would be appreciated.
I’m out in Minnesota and hearing you play again would be wonderful.
Hello, Mr. Rollins,
I am 13 years old and have been listening to your music for a long time. I really want to go places with my musical career. If you had one tip you could give to a person like me, what would it be?
Thank you Sonny, for sharing with us this great gift of music that you have. You better our world everyday and I will be forever grateful to you.
Normand Laurin, Ontario, Canada
My name is Nick and I am a 12 year old living in San Diego, California, I am too an avid saxophonist, but in my wildest dreams, I hope to be half the player you continue to be, and I look up to you with an amount of respect that I have for nobody else. I as well as my friends and family, will wish you only the best for many years to come, and cherish what you have left for all of us to discover, and take in.
Thank you so much for everything you have done, played, written, and inspired,
with true sincerity,
Hi Mr Rollins,
I’ve been listening to your music for a number of years. It always is wonderful to listen to. I play trumpet and am inspired by your continuing creativity and beauty. So thank you so much.
sono onorata mr Rollins di avela conosciuta oggi,sono italiana. Meri Di Benedetto
Hi Mr. Rollins,
some time passed from the last time I went to CatSkill. Honored to know you next time I will be there. I’m from Italy and every day of my life I study and play tenor saxophone. One day I hope to play like you. Thank you Mr. Rollins, you are my inspiration for every day study.
Hope to get in touch with you soon.
I am a Jazz student conducting PhD research at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland.
I am trying to gather the views of prominent improvising musicians primarily in France and the USA.
My research has thus far focused on guitarists but I am widening my research in order to get a broader perspective on the development of Jazz in the United States.
I wonder if you might have 15 minutes to spare from his busy schedule to participate in my survey. I am a long time fan and feel your views would be of huge importance in relation to the direction of my research.
Thanks for your kind words and congratulations to you on finding and playing the wonderful saxophone. It will be your eternal companion.
Best wishes, Sonny
Yes, I also loved my Super 20. Your question is a hard one. Even if you re-lacquered your horn, it would come out different-sounding for a while. But it will return to its original sound. If you gold-plated your horn, the sound will become different and would stay that way. But you might enjoy the gold sound as much as your current sound. It’s a serious matter, and that is all that I am prepared to say.
We all had a great time (you as well) at Ronnie’s old club. What great memories. Stay well, man.
What a great gift you have given me (as well as mine to you) with your words. Keep blowing.
You discovered for yourself how elemental (I prefer that word to “primitive”) music can be and how wonderful and magical it is. Improvisation is the most wonderful and magical.
Best wishes to you, my friend.
Dear Mr. Rollins,
I realize you get a lot of fan mail, so I will make it short. First of all, your music is such a gift to me. It does not matter if I have heard it many times before, I always find poetry and sunshine in it! :).
My question is if you knew Booker Ervin. I adore his sound, his soulful blues and his efforts to push the music ahead with love like you did. I once asked Nick Brignola about Booker Ervin and Nick told me some interesting things. I figured that you crossed paths with him more. If you have time, I would love to hear your stories. I live north of Albany, NY, and it would be my life’s dream to visit you. I will keep listening….. Thank you!
~ Mike Nirenberg, Clifton Park, NY.
As both a newly aspiring Jazz musician and a new lover of Jazz, I find your work to be deeply inspiring. I am looking forward to discovering your records that I have yet to hear.
Dear Mr. Rollins: God bless you. Huge hug from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Emilio
Hi Sonny, hope this finds you well.
As you know we lost our dear soul brother Bobby Wellins last year. We were very close and i often recorded our conversations about anything and everything. I have one short 10min interview of him talking about you and your music and how you used to play together at the old club. But more importantly, how much you helped him as a person to believe in himself more and have confidence and inner strength. I only just revisited it recently and its so poignant, humorous and beautiful i wondered if you might like to hear it? Let me know if you would like me to send it to you privately. best wishes and bright moments! Johnny
Breda, The Netherlands.
Dear mr Rollins,
No profound remarks from my side, no questions concerning instruments since I don’t play anything (unfortunately), just a little token of appreciation for occupying some highly appreciated space in my CD/LP cabinet.
Thank You Sir for the beautiful musical moments over the past and future years, a continuous joy.
A few years ago I had the honour of seeing You play in my country (City of Eindhoven)….
Dear Sonny: This is a long overdue offering of our loving thoughts, prayers and incalculable thanks from.. Elliot Horne..- now gone for sometime- through his son, now 61. For those of us in this world, ‘in the know’, who somehow care about things and labels like this, it’s SIMPLY true, you have been the greatest improvisor in the musical cosmos for the better part of two centuries. One simply can’t return such powerful GIVING of the music spirit and the common good- to us all- from you. We love you, MUCH, Mr. Rollins. Blessings.
Hey Mr. Rollins,
I really got into jazz about 4-5 years ago and have acquired somewhere in the range of 300-400 jazz records. I own quite a few of yours and I must say that you are my favorite jazz artist and one of my favorite artists in all of music. I just want to know what is your favorite album that you have been featured on. Not necessarily a record in which you led, but any album that you have been on. My favorites are “Saxophone Colossus” and the Clifford Brown & Max Roach album “Live at Basin Street.” Thanks for the beautiful music you’ve made and thanks for making me the jazzcat I am today!
Wishing you health and peace,
Sonny – I’ve been a big fan since the early 1970’s when a fellow student introduced me to your music. Hope you are keeping well and looking forward to the next edition of Road Shows.
A number of years ago I heard that you were signing posters for a fee. It impressed me as a really great way for folks to pay their respects to you in a tangible way. One detail I remember was that you were offering to inscribe them with whatever the contributor requested (probably with some reasonable limitations).
That came up in conversation after a gig I played today and I thought, “Man. I wasn’t in a place to be able to do that when I heard about it, but maybe I am now.” So I wanted to see if you are still doing that or if you’d be interested in reviving it as a kind of encore.
I’ve included my email address so you (or someone) can get back to me if you’re open to it.
I hope you’re feeling well and that you’re happy.
Thank you very much for your career, lifetime of artistry, and for the example you’ve set for so many of us.
All the best,
Firstly, I am incredible lucky to have the opportunity to contact my idol. It’s a chance that many people nowadays unfortunately miss out on as a product of the rise of commercialism and globalisation of musical culture. Also, I am honoured to witness my hero as not only one of the most talented musicians I have ever witnessed, but someone who appreciates and recognises the level happiness that their hard work gives to others like myself and remains steadfast in their own values and ethos within life.
I picked up the saxophone just under a year ago with your work as one of my sole motivations, hoping that I could one day play jazz so provocative. Sometimes I get frustrated at my own musical shortcomings and current lack of improvisational confidence, but listening to your music, what I consider to be none other than musical perfection, keeps me going in the fact that every day I can genuinely tell myself that I feel one step closer to being like what I want to be like, both musically and spiritually, and jazz has helped me to progress in such ways tenfold.
I feel as though I owe all this to you, and was ecstatic when I discovered a way to contact you earlier today. You are a merit and an inspiration to both the musical world and anyone else who has the fortune of meeting you.
I believe that I am most certainly not alone in feeling this way.
All my best wishes, Alfie
Good Afternoon Sonny,
I just finished listening to your Road Shows vol. 2 in my office and it got me thinking about all of the wonderful shows at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall you played. Thank you for all your contributions to the catalog of jazz and music. I hope you are well. If you’re taking suggestions for Road Show volumes- Troy Savings Bank Hall is mine.
thank you for the music and wisdom. some day the music and wisdom for me. thank you.
Bonjour Monsieur Rollins,
A few years back (2011), I went to see you play in Jazz à Vienne, France. The splendor of the place and that of your music were an extraordinary match. I did not know then that I would play the tenor saxophone a few years later and how much of an inspiration you would be.
I want to say how grateful I am for your music, and for the love you give through it.
I cannot say how happy I would be if you visited France again in the future!
Keep well mon ami!
it has become quiet around you. I would like to know how are health and hope that you will now also behave beautyfully in old age and despite illness still. I am sure your familiy and friends will look after you. My thoughts are often with you and I hope that you can enjoy the beautiful moments of life for a long time.
Sonny: my wife and I have the pleasure of now owning your parents summer home in Oak Bluffs. We have gone through an extensive renovation but still have some more things to achieve. One area in particular is the porch. Numerous year round neighbors have shared how wonderful it was to hear the music emanating from that great place during summer months when you clearly were present.
As we are completing a landscaping plan that I am attempting to integrate speakers into the area by the sidewalk so that those passing by can still enjoy those sounds. Thousands of people make their way by this wonderful Victorian house each year and it would be a delight to have them hear God Bless the Child or Without a Song. Many likely having no clue what it may all mean!
Should you make your way back to the Vineyard and have just a few minutes it would be an honor to have you stop in.
Hello Mr. Rollins!
I am a musician/educator from germany and we have never personally met before.
But I have some of your CD’s and I like them very much. When I listen to your music, I have the feeling that I am listening to somebody who wants to tell me a musical story about the human condition in general, and at the same time is entertaining in the best possible sense. In fact always after I listen to your music, I wonder, why I give so much attention to the shallow musical environment (radio, Pop music in general) that we all live in.
So I want to take the opportunity to thank you, for a lifetime of dedication to the art of music, and for making my life experience so much richer!
May you enjoy this day and many more to come.
Peace, Love and happiness!
greetings from Germany
And thanks a lot for Your music…
7 September 2017
A happy and healthy birthday to you. I’m listening to “The Bridge” as I write this to you in honor of your 87th birthday. Many happy returns of the day.
Several years ago, my sister, my brother-in-law, a good friend of mine and I saw you perform in Morristown, New Jersey and we are still talking about that night. I’ll never forget watching you shuffle onto the stage to begin the show not knowing what to expect exactly but hoping for the best and you sure didn’t disappoint! The energy and beauty you gave to the audience that night was unforgettable. By the end of the performance, you had everyone dancing.
There are so many albums of yours that I adore and listen to regularly. It is difficult to say which one is my favorite. “Duets” with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt ranks high as does “The Bridge,” “Saxophone Colossus,” “Moving Out,” “East Broadway Run Down,” “Brass/Trio”and “Sonny, please”. I also own the complete Prestige recordings and the Complete RCA/Victor recordings. All this the result of more than three decades of listening to your music.
Thank you for the joy you have given me over the years and may God continue to bless you.
Wishing you all the best,
My dear friend Tim Haldeman is the tenor sax player in Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things. They’re a great group based in Chicago and have played all over the world.
Tim has always told me that you are the man who really made him fall in love with the saxophone. If you ever find yourself in Chicago or Ann Arbor (where Tim lives) he’d love to meet you.
Could you please send me an autograph for Tim? I know it would mean a lot to him.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful music you’ve given us.
Here’s our contact info:
P.O. Box 6731
Vernon Hills, IL 60712
Tim’s Facebook page:
Just wanted to say your show at Ronnie Scott’s changed my life. From beginning to end I have no words to explain how it made me feel. Beautiful. The first time I watched it just about a month ago I came across Sais first, all I can say is wow, I bought myself a Soprano Sax the very next day haha, coming from guitar, woodwinds are a very new thing to me, I have my work cut out, but I’ve been spending hours everyday straight since I got the Sax, can’t get enough of it now, just learned the scale/melody to Sais! So fun to jam! Thanks for the joy, I hope we can meet one day.
Best Regards, Cesar Centeno
Hey sonny, I am a young jazz tenor saxophonist. I’m inspired by your music and how you’ve lived your life. I would love it if you had any practice techniques that I could use to improve my tone.
I discovered the music and I just started the saxophone (alto) at 59 years old. Like all beginners I am fond of advice and one of you to find the breath and the swing would be welcome.
And also do I have to sleep with my saxophone?
I hope you will come to play again in France and Paris one day.
I wish you as much happiness as you have given to the world.
Hi Sonny ,I am just watching you blowing the hell out of your sax in 1968with a bald head and a sharp suit and a pretty sharp rhythm section , on sky arts in the UK , Saw you a couple of times at the Barbican ,the last time with my now dead buddy who you were kind enough to meet backstage , he was near end of life and you were his sax hero for 40years ,you were very kind that evening thank you
Dear Sonny, I guess I am inspired to write you from your interview on the program just aired on John Coltrane. My friend Bart Jordan played jazz for a while until he went classical, guitar improvisation, and studied under Andres Segovia. Bart contacted me back in 1999, and everything he gave me I posted, including some of his music, and evidence of his being a child prodigy as core mathematician for the Trinity Test in the Manhattan Project and was key for NASA on a discovery on Mars in 1976. I hope you two can talk someday and share notes.. Peace and Love,
Words can hardly express the gratitude I have for the life you’ve spent sharing your spirit, vision and gifts with this world. Your music and beautiful energy bring vitality and color to a world that sorely needs healing.
I’m not sure what to say, but I wanted to say something to you. You help me discover myself as a player and a person. You connect me to the world of jazz and its heros. Thank you. Thank you for you music and wisdom.
I study computer science and math, but jazz pulls me down its path. You inspire me to bring something more meaningful to this world. I’ve seen how it touches people, how it brings us together, and I want to be a part of that.
Hello Mr. Rollins, I would like to say that I am a big fan of your Music! I particularly enjoy “St. Thomas”. Your playing in that song is out of this world. I was wondering, what type Saxophone do you like to play the most?
_ much respect, Franklin
Hello Mr Rollins,
Greetings from San Francisco!
My son (James, age 8) is doing a biography of you for his jazz project in his English class. We’ve been listening to your music quite a lot lately 🙂 He is also starting piano and guitar, but now *really* wants to play sax…
James was wondering what your favorite song to play is…and what about that song brings you particular joy. Also, what is your favorite music to listen to?
We hope this finds you well; thank you for your music!
First and foremost thank you for your life’s work. I consider you one of the greatest performers I had the luck to hear perform.
Upon a couple of occasions you insisted that I follow you through a tour of Europe. I would have loved the opportunity, however my time was compromised by the fact that I had to work 2 jobs to make ends meet. If I had the opportunity to talk to you today I would definitely skip out on work without a second’s thought- not just because I am more settled, but because you are the epitome of class and endurance. I consider your example of what can be achieved as an amazing testimony to hard work and a constant struggle to seek the truth.
I was wondering if I could send you a print of a drawing I did of you in 1996 at SUNY Purchase. As well, I am making a book of my jazz sketches and if you have anything to say about my drawing your input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time!
Dear Mr Rollins,
Remembering this night of July in Juan les pins and the energy I have received from your thousands of notes, motivating me to play for the next 40 years… I am constantly telling stories to the audience when we play, mentioning jazz legends and pointing the milestones of this music. You are in most of the parts of my talk, colossus and legends are forever. God bless you Mr Rollins
Dear Mr. Rollins, I’ve been a fan of yours since the ’70’s. You music has touched my soul like no other. When my first kid was toddling around, I was his Mr. Mom. I’d put a side on and ask him, “who’s that man?” He’d respond, “That’s Mr. Rollins (or Mr. Coltrane, or Mr. Parker!)
I played the tenor for years, and was influenced by your soulful sound. When my dad passed away, I was a medical student at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, OR (at an advanced age.) I lost all focus and was ready to hang it up. I tuned into your playing, and got the strength to carry on . . . the truth has power. Thanks for being my inspiration for all these years.
Health and love to you!
I just wanted to say thank you. Your work is full of revelation and fun. Very inspirational.
Just wanted to take this time to thank you for all of the great music you’ve created and played throughout your life. You are truly truly inspirational in music and life lessons.
God bless you my Brother
You are truly loved
My son (now 16) has been playing tenor sax for four years, and was just invited to join the jazz band at his high school (he also played in his middle school’s jazz band). My oldest son (now 30) also played tenor sax in the jazz band at his high school. One of my fondest memories is hearing them play ” St Thomas” in their respective ensembles. My wish is that my youngest would see you perform, but I expect those occasions are very few and far between. One can dream however.
With much gratitude for the beautiful music you have given this world, a divine gift to us all.
All the best,
Your mom was my music teacher at Trinity School in New Rochelle. I still remember when you came in for a visit. It made a lasting impression.
Im 13 years old and Live in Tampa, Florida plus play the Tenor Saxophone and I must say, I love your work. My favorite tune of yours is St.Thomas which i have also learned on my horn. I have also learned Tenor Madness.
I just wanted to say I’m in awe of your gifts that you chose to give to the world. Listening (and just received) the 60th anniversary edition of your 1957 masterpiece “way out west” on vinyl. Having a glass of wine and being thankful that I’m present on this earth to hear such splendor.
My sincere love and regards,
Fred from SLC, UT.
Sonny, you opened the Edmonton Jazz City Festival back in 1979 at the Shoctor Theatre. The concert was either recorded or broadcast by CBC Radio in Edmonton. My hope is that it was recorded. However my brother-in-law who works at the CBC here in Toronto came up dry in regards to his search of the radio archives (which are pretty good). The concert remains one memory, of a night where music touched your soul and changed it forever – for the better I would hope. And as of today, I continue to remember that concert to others – and would love to hear it again, if by chance you were provided a recording and it was deposited in your archives. Precious time with your melodies I still listen to in my car – and they are as live as the day they were recorded. Love it. Best regards. Neil Kredentser
Hi Sonny – Back around 1962 I happened on an album recorded back in 1954 featuring yourself, Kenny Dorham, Thelonius Monk, Tommy Potter, Art Taylor and Elmo Hope. This album opened up the world of be-bop in particular and jazz music in general, at a time when most of my friends were listening to The Shadows or The Beatles. This was the north of England. I started buying jazz records (Johnny Dankworth’s version of Moanin’ really got me seriously interested in the genre). My parents thought I was completely nuts, but I didn’t care. They say this level of music is dying but I disagree. There are some modern young musicians who have listened to the masters and learned, and perfected their technique and at the same that spirit that the old masters expressed so abundantly. I quote only one example – the young English trumpeter Laura Jurd who can blow that horn as well as any of the great horn players of the past 60 years. Seriously. So I can only reiterate my sincere thanks to you for the years of outstanding and interesting music. Cheers.
You are a constant inspiration to me. Thank you for all your music over the years. Its such a joy to listen to a TRUE (and truthful) improvising musician amongst all those playing other people’s “licks”!
I’m very sorry to hear that you are unable to play anymore. I hope you will nonetheless find peace and happiness in retirement.
I wonder if you might write your autobiography now that you have time on your hands? I’m sure many, many people would like to hear your story from your point of view. And many saxophonists would be very keen to know what (and how) you have practised on the saxophone over the years!
Kindest regards and best wishes (from Edinburgh, Scotland),
April 2, 2018
At my wife’s wonderful suggestion, I’m writing to express my gratitude and admiration for you and your music. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand the importance of telling people whom we care about how we feel about them. And given my and your age—69 and 87 respectively—I want to act on the opportunity to do that. Also, this is the first “fan” letter I’ve ever written to a musician. The only other fan letter I’ve ever written was to President Obama.
First, some context about me, relative to you and your music. I fell in love with jazz when I was a 14 year-old kid growing up in Pittsburgh. I’ve listened to jazz continuously ever since, and I tell my friends that jazz is my religion. Why do I say that? It’s simply because I believe in and have experienced its emotional power and truth telling. I’ve also been an amateur jazz trumpet player and have studied and played the music.
I’ve also been listening to your music for 55 years and counting. I started to acquire your albums in the 1960s and have 25 of them (vinyl LPs, CDs, and digital downloads). They include recordings from the early 1950s to the present. I’ve heard you in live settings 4 times over the years: 1973 at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase in Chicago; 1984 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles at a concert you gave for Olympic athletes; 2008 at the 50th year anniversary at the Monterey Jazz Festival; and 2013 at a concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
These are some of the many aspects of your music that I admire so much:
• Your incredible imagination and seemingly infinite capacity for melodic invention
• The breadth of the musical forms, styles, songs, and origins that you incorporate in your music
• You cover the very wide waterfront of the jazz traditions in your playing and writing
• You swing as effectively as anyone I’ve ever heard
• Your ballads are powerful statements of romance, vulnerability, pain, and sheer beauty
But even beyond your brilliant musical contributions, I admire you and the way you live your life. In short, your humanity is a shining example of how we can make our existence meaningful. You show us that humility, generosity, and anti-tribalism are what really matter.
So thank you so much Sonny for everything that you’ve given to me and everyone else. I wish you the best.
Very truly yours,
My husband and I live in Queens. I am a registered nurse and Charles is a professional piano player of almost 50 years. Our very dear friend is tenor saxophonist, Jerry Weldon, who I know admires you very much. We enjoy going to Showman’s in Harlem as often as we can.
Recently, one of my husbands friends, who is a school jazz band teacher, had the children give a concert at their Long Island school. He asked the audience to name the greatest living tenor saxophonist, and, someone responded, “Sonny Rollins”. I just wanted you to know that. God bless you with good health and a life-long ability to play that wonderful instrument.
Josephine Flink, RN
I wanted to say if I could take lessons with you and your a good and awesome tenor player and the songs you wrote are amazing
Love you, Sonny. Thank you for all you’ve done for humanity. Peace and blessings from Jupiter, Florida.
Thank you for your music. The sound of your horn always fills me with joy, and whenever I hear you play I am happy to be alive.
I really want to nerd out and start glorifying you, but I won’t. But, what I will do is say how greatly you’ve impacted me. Although I am 14 (my friends say I have the taste in music and television of their grandfather), I have had struggles with depression, sadness, and suicidal tendencies. Playing my old dented trumpet to Saxophone Colossus and Newk’s Time has really felt good and seen me through these things (you, Art Tatum, Trane, Miles, Charlie Parker, Freddie Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock are the main others that I play along with and listen to). Thanks for helping me learn the jazz language and thanks for being there, through your music, when others couldn’t.
I am writing to you to see if my husband can meet you to give you a poem he wrote about you.
My husband, who is from Sudan, is a musician and a poet who had followed you for many years. Last year he wrote, in Arabic, a wonderful piece of poetry about you and this year he had the piece translated into English, by a remarkable Sudanese translator. It is my husband’s wish that he meets you and present you with the poem-in both its Arabic and English versions.
His poem reflects how your life and music have been closely followed by someone far away in the deeps of the African continent.
My husband lives in New Hampshire and could be reached through my email.
Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you, if you find the idea plausible.
Good afternoon mr. Rollins, I wonder hoe you are…
And too many others are…
♂️Arjan, From the Netherlands
When I was very young (around 6) I heard the song “Waiting on a Friend” by the Rolling Stones. I thought that the saxophone solo was the most amazing thing that I had ever heard. I had no idea who it was. I asked my sisters (who both owned the album) who the Rolling Stones saxophonist was, but unfortunately since your name was never listed on the original record they did not know. As a result of that solo a few years later I began playing guitar. I still had no idea who performed that solo, but it was the reason that I started playing an instrument. I did not find out that it was you that played on that cut until I was in my early twenties, and by that time I was well acquainted with your work with Miles Davis. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for adding so much to my life- in all aspects of my life. My life would be so different without the role that you played in it.
I live on the island of Malta, and will soon go back to Australia. I’ve been playing tenor for a number of years now and love the joy you bring to the world with your incredible impro. Someone once asked me who my top 3 favourite saxophonists were. My answer was 1.Sonny Rollins; 2 Sonny Rollins and 3 Sonny Rollins. Keep blowing you legend
You are a great inspiration, and your dedication to the craft is extremely admirable. I would like to thank you for all you have done and wish you much blessings and happiness!
I would just like to quickly say what an inspiration you have been over the years. I am a drummer and listening to A night at the Village Vanguard, particularly with Elvin on the drums, has been hugely inspiring and helpful to me for many years. Thank you again for your inspired and authentic music.
Mr. Rollins, your music was an inspiration for me to start playing the tenor sax years ago, from high school to college. Although I stopped playing a while ago due to a loss of confidence and passion for playing, I still enjoy listening to jazz and found an interest in learning about jazz history, so it worked out in the end.
I have listened to you all of my life, and my profound admiration for your work only continues to grow. Thank you for your music! It is a true gift to the world.
– James Shaskan
I am sitting here listening to “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, and I felt compelled to write and say THANK YOU, sir, for your lifetime of wonderful music!
I have been a fan for nearly 20 years. I was turned on to jazz rather late in life. How I wish it would have been sooner!
I was lucky to see you in concert in Portland, OR in 2007 I believe. What a show you put on. 3 hours on stage… at 77 years old. That was something!
Thank you again, for sharing your talent with the world.
You have been a gift to us all!
God bless you, sir! I wish you peace and contentment.
I bought my first jazz LPs in 1966, when I was 15 years old and living in England – a compilation album “Giants of Modern Jazz”, Thelonious Monk’s “The Golden Monk” and your album, “On Impulse”. I had been exposed to jazz, having to listen to my brother’s music – Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, MJQ, Earl Bostic . . . . .
I now live in Canada and have a huge collection of jazz LPs and CDs, including some by Cannonball, Coltrane, MJQ, Clifford Brown, Hank Mobley, Brubeck, Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, et
al, and, of course 4 of yours (and more to come!).
Of all the great jazz that I own, my absolute favourite piece is one of yours. In fact, it is one of the first that I bought in ’66 – your version of “Everything Happens To Me”. Absolutely, the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard! I play the album often, but when it’s done I have to play that 2nd track over and over again. You, Ray Bryant, Walter Booker and Mickey Roker were at the very top of your collective games! Thank you SO much for that tune and being a major part of the backdrop of my life!
With utmost respect,
Mississauga, Ontario Canada
Thank you, thank you, thank you for a body of work that continues to inspire and move me. You have been one of my major musical icons and influences since I first saw you live at the Smithsonian Institute in 1971or 2. Bless our band director, Lawrence Jackson, for taking us into Washington that evening. Since then, your recordings, live performances, and living example have continued to be an exemplar for me as for so many others.
Love and music…
Dear Mr. Rollins,
I bought my first jazz LPs in 1966, when I was 15 years old and living in England – a compilation album “Giants of Modern Jazz”, Thelonious Monk’s “The Golden Monk” and your album, “On Impulse”. I had been exposed to jazz, having to listen to my brother’s music – Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, MJQ, Earl Bostic . . . . .
I now live in Canada and have a huge collection of jazz LPs and CDs, including some by Cannonball, Coltrane, MJQ, Clifford Brown, Hank Mobley, Brubeck, Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, et al, and, of course 4 of yours (and more to come!).
Of all the great jazz that I own, my absolute favourite piece is one of yours. In fact, it is one of the first that I bought in ’66 – your version of “Everything Happens To Me”. Absolutely, the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard! I play the album often, but when it’s done I have to play that 2nd track over and over again. You, Ray Bryant, Walter Booker and Mickey Roker were at the very top of your collective games! Thank you SO much for that tune and being a major part of the backdrop of my life!
Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place.
Most of my adult life was as a woodwind player. I was a member of the US Navy Music Program for eleven years, and I had the pleasure of studying with such masters as Joe Viola, Yusef Later, Phil Wilson and Adolph Sandole. Musician’s dystonia halted my career, and the theft of my Mark VI tenor, left me emotionally scarred. I have not my touched an instrument in almost twenty years now, and the emotional call of my tenor and flute is demanding to be answered. I recently discovered some of your interviews on Youtube, and I was impressed and amazed at the depth that your words and thought touched me. It took me many years to be able to listen to music without crying and to be able to enjoy hearing you again is a great pleasure. Thank you so much for the the joy have given me, and countless others. Your amazing life is one to be celebrated.
I don’t know if this site is still active, but as a Senior in high school, I look to a master for help. Attempting to keep things short, I simply have nowhere else to turn to better myself as a musician. I currently own an alto and soprano. Tenor experience. I think I’m decent. It’s just that even now, the Military is pressuring me, telling me that they are how I will get better. I’ve tried studying figures such as you, Coltrane, Thompson, Young, and even Gordon. I don’t even know what it is I’m looking for from you… I at least wanted to take the chance to get some form of wisdom before I head out into the world, at least. Even now, I’m listening to your version of “In a Sentimental Mood”, and am struggling to figure out what it is I’m missing. Same with Hodges and Griffin… I don’t know. I’m trying not to ask for too much from you, as I understand you have both bigger fish to fry and better things to do… If possible, please respond. I hope to keep Jazz alive and healthy, and I just can’t do such myself. Thank you for your time, and I hope I’ll get a response from you.
Hello to all and my respects to Mr. Rollins. I saw Sonny Rollins in concert with Tete Montoliu in Córdoba, Spain, I do not remember the year well, but it was around 1979. Could I know the year and some other data? Thanks and best regards
My dear Sonny,
I’ve been collecting photos of you in many years and hearing you hundreds of times.
So, I just want to say “happy birthday” once more and thank so much once again for having made my life sweeter by your presence.
Umberto Laneri, Italy.
Good day Sonny,
My name is Agustín, I’m a music journalist from Buenos Aires (Argentina) and a devoted fan of your work. You have been a vital artist for me to start listening to jazz, and in a way, you are responsible for my passion for this music genre.
I wanted to take the opportunity of today being September the 7th (although not yet in the USA) to wish you a very happy birthday, and thanking you for all the things you’ve done.
Hope you are doing great. And I dream of someday having a conversation with you.
Thank you very much. I wish the very best for you.
Well, another year has gone by, but I hope you can celebrate and enjoy this day in a relaxed manner, surrounded by your loved ones.
Thank you, once again for a lifetime of dedication to music. All those wonderful records and concerts (unfortunately I have never had chance to hear you perform myself) and even those outspoken comments about the development of music and our culture in general that float around on You Tube!
So, congratulations on your birthday!
I wish I could put my wishes as nicely as Bob Dylan did, with his Song “Forever Young”.
Greetings, from an unknown music teacher from germany.
Happy birthday Sonny !
Thank you for sharing your music and your wisdom.
Both have always been a source of inspiration and joy for so many of us.
I was fortunate to attend your concert in Luxemburg in November 2012 and will never forget this mind blowing experience.
Keep well, best wishes & love,
Dear Sonny –
As a longtime fan of your incredible music, I was thrilled to recently purchase Jimmy Katz’s photo of you with Sax and poignant backdrop of the Williamsburg Bridge.
I’d b honored if you could sign the print for me.
I live in lower Manhattan and willing to meet you at a place and date of your convenience.
Thanks so much for your consideration!
Happy birthday my brother (slightly belated, apologies). Forgive my arrogance for calling you my brother, but your music has meant so much to me. Not only has it made me thoughtful and happy, it has made me try to be a better player myself, and to look inside myself to try to find the things that you looked inside yourself for. Thank you more than I can ever say. All the best to you, you do wonderful things by putting beauty into a world that truly needs it.
Like many Americans who came of age in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I was raised on the American and British popular music of that era, which I still love. But, along about high school, I discovered jazz, and there are a couple of Sonny Rollins tunes which I never tire of listening to or playing myself in my jazz trio.
Just recently, I wrote a piano tune which I titled “Nigeria (With a Nod to Sonny Rollins)”. Directly below is a link to a very short YouTube recording of just the head of that tune played on piano:
I don’t think Mr. Rollins will have any difficulty identifying the link between this tune and which tune of his it harks back to. I’d be honored if he were to take a listen and, obviously, I’d be thrilled to hear what he could do with the tune himself if he cared to try it out sometime. (I’d be happy to send a PDF of the chart.)
With Horace Silver https://t.co/iyU4GEHvCe
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