Home Contents Directory About
Biography

Sonny Rollins

Theodore Walter Rollins
Newk

Saxophonist, Composer, Bandleader

(1930 - )

The colored dots show the fastest links (How?)

Home or Tribute Pages:

 
www.sonnyrollins.com
 

Biographies:

 
allaboutjazz.com
PBS - JAZZ
DownBeat.com
AllMusic.com
Wikipedia.org
JazzReview.com
 

Other:

 
Audio/video at ilike.com
Videos at google.com
 

Sonny Rollins grew up in Harlem’s famed Sugar Hill district at a time when bebop was king. He and his peer group of future jazz musicians were heavily influenced by the new music. Sonny began performing in his teens with Charlie Parker, J. J. Johnson, and Thelonious Monk and recorded with Bud Powell’s group in 1949. In the early ‘50s he performed with Miles Davis who recorded several of Rollins’ compositions. Rollins’ first album as a leader came out in 1951. In 1955 he joined the Clifford Brown/Max Roach group, and the following year he recorded his critically acclaimed Saxophone Colossus. Many consider his 1957 releases, Live at the Village Vanguard (two volumes) and Way Out West, some of his finest work. Both are early examples of the pianoless group.

Until John Coltrane rose to prominence, Rollins was jazz’s preeminent tenor saxophonist. He was noted for his ability to inject new life into popular songs through what historian Gunther Schuller called “thematic improvisation,” a spontaneous reworking of a stated theme. Many of the songs seemed unlikely candidates for improvisation: “I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Wagon Wheels,” and “Sweet Leilani.” Rollins also experimented with new time signatures and brought the calypso rhythms of his West Indian heritage into his performances.

In 1959 Rollins withdrew from public appearances and began practicing his saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge. When he returned to record in 1962, his first effort was entitled The Bridge. Over the next few years he delved into free jazz, worked with Jim Hall, Don Cherry, and Paul Bley, and became noted for his brilliant marathon solos. In 1966 he dropped out of public life again to pursue his interest in eastern religion, spending time in an Indian monastery. He returned to the studio in 1972 and began experimenting with R&B and funk.

In 2001 Rollins was just six blocks from the World Trade Center when it was attacked. Four days later, he kept a performance date in Boston and recorded Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert as an effort to heal America’s wounds through music.

Many of Rollins’ compositions are in the standard repertoire of jazz musicians: “Oleo,” “Airegin,” “St. Thomas” (based on a traditional melody that his mother sang to him), “Doxy,” and “Pent-up House.” He also scored the 1966 film Alfie and performed on the soundtrack. In 2004 he received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Charles Blancq’s book Sonny Rollins: The Journey of a Jazzman is out of print.

For the curious, Rollins’ nickname “Newk” resulted from his physical resemblance to Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe.

- Sandra Burlingame


Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

Sonny Rollins



Saxophone Colossus

Sonny Rollins



Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins

Thelonious Monk With Sonny Rollins



Way Out West

Sonny Rollins



Night at the Village Vanguard

Sonny Rollins



The Best of Miles Davis

Miles Davis



Bags & Trane (Mcup)

John Coltrane, Milt Jackson



Bridge

Sonny Rollins



Tattoo You

Rolling Stones



Freelance Years

Sonny Rollins



Complete Studio Recordings

Clifford Brown/Sonny Rollins/Max Roach Quintet



Sonny Rollins in Vienne

Sonny Rollins, Victor Lewis, Bob Cranshaw, Clifton Anderson, Bobby Broom
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price


Eric Nisenson

Open Sky: Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation

Da Capo Press


Charles Blancq

Sonny Rollins: The Journey of a Jazzman (Twayne's music series)

Twayne Pub


Various

DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology) (Book)

Hal Leonard


Various

Down Beat: Sixty Years of Jazz

Hal Leonard Corporation


Ben Ratliff

The Jazz Ear: Conversations over Music

St. Martin's Griffin

Various artists


Michael Caine/Shelley Winters

Alfie

Paramount

DVD


Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Hinton, Marian McPartland, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan

A Great Day in Harlem

Homevision

DVD


Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus

Winstar

DVD


John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, B.B. King

20th Century Jazz Masters

Idem

DVD


Sonny Rollins, Jim Hall

Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall: The Bridge

Salt Peanuts

DVD


John Coltrane, Elvin Jones, Benny Barth, Ralph J. Gleason, Gary Lang

Jazz Casual - Sonny Rollins & Carmen McRae

Jazz Casual

DVD


Sonny Rollins, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Alan Dawson, Kenny Drew

Jazz Icons: Sonny Rollins - Live in ‘65 & ‘68

NAXOS OF AMERICA DVD

DVD


Sonny Rollins

Jazz Casual - Sonny Rollins

Rhino / Wea

VHS


Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins Live at Loren

Rhapsody Films

VHS


Sonny Rollins & Dexter Gordon

Sonny Rollins & Dexter Gordon

Vidjazz

VHS

Copyright 2008 - JazzBiographies.com - All Rights Reserved          Permission and contact information