BARCELONA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 03: Sonny Rollins performs on stage during Barcelona Jazz Festival at L’Auditori on November 3, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jordi Vidal/Redferns) *** Local Caption *** Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins has been called the Saxophone Colossus because of the gladiator tone he gets on his instrument. Sonny is a senior veteran of our jazz world, and called by some people one of the most influential, due to his innovations.
Sonny grew up in a musical family from Harlem, NY, NY and was playing from age 7 or 8. When he moved into professional performing his early style was bebop, and later were other styles.
Sonny is named as “brought a new sound to his craft.” Notably, several times in his career he emerged with some new musical style or method. An example is his introduction of using the sax as a rhythm piece rather than melody. Try this sample here (I’m Old Fashion). You should keep your eyes open when listening because a piece from one time can sound really different from one of another time.
Sonny has been recording for over half a century, although he did more than half of his releases in the ’50’s and ’60’s. One problem of comparing his work over time is that so much of it in circulation is in these two decades. Here are a handful of pieces, mostly from the 50’s and 60’s: (unnamed, at St. Thomas), The Bridge (’62), Tenor Madness (’56), and Bird (’56).
On Wednesday, September 9th, from 2 to 6 PM, Chuy and Mel will honor Tenor Titan Sonny Rollins with an afternoon chronicling his career and contributions to Jazz, right here on KCSM, The Bay Area’s Jazz Station.