Sonny Rollins is the greatest tenor sax man of all time. His early work was standard bop in the fifties. His best album of that time was Saxophone Colossus He then took a hiatus, playing alone on the Williamsburg Bridge for two years. His return to Jazz in the early sixties marked a change of style. Listen to What's New?.

"Newk", for his (alleged) resemblance to Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don ("The Newk") Newcombe. Flaky, in a lovable, eccentric-yogi-uncle sort of way; a speaking voice not far removed from Marvin the Martian. Had a mohawk for a while (in the 1950's). He juggles improvisational motifs like a math geek counting primes in lieu of sheep; it led to Gunther Schuller's think-too-much dissection of "Blue Seven" (which in turn seemed to have made Rollins himself think too much about his playing in the early 60's -- leading to sabbaticals and slight pushings of the envelope in his playing), but thematic improvisation may be Rollins' most lasting contribution to the medium. His playing oozes integrity, whether playing a calypso, a pop tune, or the most abstract of blues.

Sonny Theador Walter; Newk Rollins was born on the 9th of September 1930 in New York.

The first instrument Sonny took was the piano, around the age of 11 he started to study the Alto Saxophone and finally in 1946 took up the Tenor. In 1948 he rehearsed with Thelonious Monk for serveral months, and from 1949 to 1954 he recorded with a number of leading bop musicians and groups, such as Charlie Parker, Art Blakey and also Monk. The most person he was involved with in these early years was Miles Davis with whom he played with in clubs and recorded with in 1951. During these sessions with Davis, Rollins introduced his own compositions, three of which became Jazz Standards: Doxy, Airegin and Oleo

In 1956 came the first of a series of breakthrough recordings for Rollins, which was issued under his own name: Valse hot brought in the practise, which is now common of playing bob in the 3/4 time. Blue 7 was prasied by Gunther Schuller as demonstrating a new manner of "thematic improvisation". In 1957 Rollins recorded his first album entitiled "Way Out West", on this album Rollins used a trio of sax, double bass and drums, this finally provided a solution to his problems of incabable pianists, and brought forth his witty ablity to improvise on hackneyed material.

Between the years of 1956 to 1958 Rollins was opiniated to be the most talented and innovative tennor sax player in Jazz, but from reasons such as poor health, incompatible sidemen and his own opinion of his playing, Rollins retired at the age of 29. When Rollins finally came out of retirament many things had changed, his style was now considered conserative. In 1965 he wrote the film score for Alfie (apart from the main theme which was provided by Burt Bacharach)

Rollins remained active throughout the 1980s touring the USA, Europe and Japan and recording a fusion of bop and soul music with his quintet.


Refrences: The New Groove Dictionary of Jazz

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.