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Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins will go down in history as not only the single most enduring tenor saxophonist of the bebop and hard bop era, but also as one of the greatest contemporary jazz saxophonists of them all. His fluid and harmonically innovative ideas, effortless manner, and easily identifiable and accessible sound have influenced generations of performers, but have also fueled the notion that mainstream jazz music can be widely enjoyed, recognized, and proliferated. Born Theodore Walter Rollins in New York City on September 7, 1930, he had an older brother who played violin. At age nine he took up piano lessons but discontinued them, took up the alto saxophone in high school, and switched to tenor after high school, doing local engagements. In 1948 he recorded with vocalist Babs Gonzales, then Bud Powell and Fats Navarro, and his first composition, "Audubon," was recorded by J.J. Johnson. Soon thereafter, Rollins made the rounds quickly with groups led by Tadd Dameron, Chicago drummer Ike Day, and Miles Davis in 1951, followed by his own recordings with Kenny Drew, Kenny Dorham, and Thelonious Monk.

In 1956 Rollins made his biggest move, joining the famous ensemble of Max Roach and Clifford Brown, then formed his own legendary pianoless trio with bassist Wilbur Ware or Donald Bailey and drummer Elvin Jones or Pete La Roca in 1957, doing recorded sessions at the Village Vanguard. Awards came from DownBeat and Playboy magazines, and recordings were done mainly for the Prestige and Riverside labels, but also for Verve, Blue Note, Columbia, and Contemporary Records, all coinciding with the steadily rising star of Rollins. Pivotal albums such as Tenor Madness (with John Coltrane), Saxophone Colossus (with longstanding partner Tommy Flanagan), and Way Out West (with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne), and collaborations with the Modern Jazz Quartet, Clark Terry, and Sonny Clark firmly established Rollins as a bona fide superstar. He also acquired the nickname "Newk" for his facial resemblance to Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe.

But between 1959 and 1961 he sought a less superficial, more spiritual path to the rat race society of the times, visiting Japan and India, studying yoga and Zen. He left the music business until 1962, when he returned with the groundbreaking and in many ways revolutionary recording The Bridge with guitarist Jim Hall for the RCA Victor/Bluebird label. Rollins struck up a working relationship with trumpeter Don Cherry; did a handful of innovative LPs for the RCA Victor, MGM/Metro Jazz, and Impulse! labels; did one record with his hero Coleman Hawkins; and left the scene again in 1968. By 1971 he came back with a renewed sense of vigor and pride, and put out a string of successful records for the Milestone label that bridged the gap between the contemporary and fusion jazz of the time, the most memorable being his live date from the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival, The Cutting Edge. Merging jazz with calypso, light funk, and post-bop, the career of Rollins not only was revived, but thrived from then onward. He was a member of the touring Milestone Jazz Stars in 1978 with McCoy Tyner and Ron Carter, and gained momentum as a touring headliner and festival showstopper.

His finest Milestone recordings of the second half of his career include Easy Living, Don't Stop the Carnival, G-Man, Old Flames, Plus Three, Global Warming, This Is What I Do, and Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert. He has worked extensively with road and recording bands that have included such artists as electric bass guitarist Bob Cranshaw; trombonist Clifton Anderson; pianists Tommy Flanagan and Stephen Scott; keyboardist Mark Soskin; guitarists Bobby Broom and Jerome Harris; percussionist Kimati Dinizulu; and drummers Jack DeJohnette, Perry Wilson, Steve Jordan, and Al Foster. Rollins formed his own record label, Doxy, through which he issued the CD Sonny, Please in 2006. Well into his eighth decade, Rollins continued to perform worldwide, and was documented on the three-volume Road Show series, also released on Doxy. ~ Michael G. Nastos
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Road Shows, Vol. 2

1. They Say It's Wonderful

2. In A Sentimental Mood

3. Sonnymoon For Two

4. I Can't Get Started

5. Rain Check

6. St. Thomas

x

Track List: Road Shows: Vol. 1

1. Best Wishes

2. More Than You Know

3. Blossom

4. Easy Living

5. Tenor Madness

6. Nice Lady

7. Some Enchanted Evening

x

Track List: Sonny, Please

1. Sonny, Please

2. Someday I'll Find You

3. Nishi

4. Stairway To The Stars

5. Remembering Tommy

7. Park Palace Parade

x

Track List: The Essential Sonny Rollins: The RCA Years

Disc 1

1. The Bridge

2. God Bless The Child

3. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

4. Don't Stop The Carnival

5. If Ever I Would Leave You

6. Jungoso

7. Doxy (Live)

Disc 2

1. There Will Never Be Another You

2. All The Things You Are

3. Lover Man

4. Just Friends

5. Now's The Time

6. St. Thomas

7. 'Round Midnight

8. Afternoon In Paris

9. Four

10. My Ship

11. Love Letters

12. Trav'lin' Light

x

Track List: Without a Song: The 9-11 Concert (Live)

1. Without A Song (Live)

2. Global Warming (Live)

3. Introductions (Live)

4. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (Live)

5. Why Was I Born? (Live)

6. Where Or When (Live)

x

Track List: Tenor Titan

1. St. Thomas

2. Four (Alternate)

3. Long Ago And Far Away

4. All The Things You Are

5. The Bridge

6. God Bless The Child

7. Dearly Beloved

8. Blue 'n' Boogie

9. Bluesongo

10. Don't Stop The Carnival

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. St. Thomas

2. 'Round Midnight

3. Four

4. Night And Day

5. Just Friends

6. My One And Only Love

7. Now's The Time

8. Don't Stop The Carnival

9. You Do Something To Me

10. Brown Skin Girl

11. There Will Never Be Another You

x

Track List: Jazz Showcase

1. Movin' Out

2. I Want To Be Happy

3. I'm An Old Cowhand

4. Valse Hot

5. I've Told Ev'ry Little Star

6. You Don't Know What Love Is

7. Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye

8. No Moe

9. St. Thomas

10. Tenor Madness

x

Track List: Priceless Jazz Collection

1. Three Little Words

2. Hold 'em Joe

3. Everything Happens To Me

4. Blue Room

5. Alfie's Theme

6. We Kiss In A Shadow

7. Blessing In Disguise

x

Track List: G-Man

2. Kim

3. Don't Stop The Carnival

4. Tenor Madness

x

Track List: The Cutting Edge

2. To A Wild Rose

3. First Moves

5. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

x

Track List: Next Album

1. Playin' In The Yard

2. Poinciana

3. The Everywhere Calypso

4. Keep Hold Of Yourself

5. Skylark

x

Track List: East Broadway Run Down

1. East Broadway Run Down

2. Blessing In Disguise

3. We Kiss In A Shadow

x

Track List: Alfie (Soundtrack)

1. Alfie's Theme

2. He's Younger Than You Are

3. Street Runner With Child

4. Transition Theme For Minor Blues (Or Little Malcolm Loves His Dad)

5. On Impulse

6. Alfie's Theme Differently

x

Track List: Sonny Rollins On Impulse!

x

Track List: On Impulse!

1. On Green Dolphin Street

2. Everything Happens To Me

3. Hold 'em Joe

4. Blue Room

5. Three Little Words

x

Track List: Sonny Rollins And The Big Brass

1. Grand Street

2. Far Out East

3. Who Cares

4. Love Is A Simple Thing

5. What's My Name

6. If You Were The Only Girl In The World

7. Manhattan

8. Body And Soul

9. Doxy

10. Limehouse Blues

11. I'll Follow My Secret Heart

12. You Are Too Beautiful

13. Grand Street (Mono Lp Ending)

14. Grand Street (Verve Lp Ending)

x

Track List: Freedom Suite

1. The Freedom Suite

2. Someday I'll Find You

3. Will You Still Be Mine?

4. Till There Was You (Take 4)

5. Till There Was You (Take 3)

6. Shadow Waltz

x

Track List: A Night At The Village Vanguard (Live)

Disc 1

1. A Night In Tunisia (Live)

2. I've Got You Under My Skin (Live)

5. Four (Live)

7. Woody 'N' You (Live)

9. Old Devil Moon (Live)

Disc 2

1. What Is This Thing Called Love (Live)

2. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Live)

3. Sonnymoon For Two (Live)

4. I Can't Get Started (Live)

5. I'll Remember April (Live)

7. Striver's Row (Live)

8. All The Things You Are (Live)

x

Track List: Newk's Time

1. Tune Up

2. Asiatic Raes

3. Wonderful! Wonderful!

4. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top

5. Blues For Philly Joe

6. Namely You

x

Track List: Tenor Madness

1. Tenor Madness

2. When Your Lover Has Gone

3. Paul's Pal

4. My Reverie

5. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

x

Track List: Plus Four

1. Valse Hot

2. Kiss And Run

3. I Feel A Song Coming On

4. Count Your Blessings

5. Pent-Up House

x

Track List: Rollins Plays For Bird

1. I Remember You / My Melancholy Baby / Old Folks / They Can't Take That Away From Me / Just Friends / My Little Suede Shoes / Star Eyes

2. Kids Know

3. I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face

4. The House I Live In

x

Track List: Saxophone Colossus (Remastered)

1. St. Thomas

2. You Don't Know What Love Is

3. Strode Rode

4. Moritat (Mack The Knife)

5. Blue 7

x

Track List: Moving Out

1. Moving Out

2. Swingin' For Bumsy

3. Silk 'n' Satin

4. Solid

5. More Than You Know

x

Track List: The Bridge

1. Without a Song

2. Where Are You

3. John S

4. The Bridge

5. God Bless the Child

6. You Do Something to Me

x

Track List: The Sound Of Sonny

1. The Last Time I Saw Paris

2. Just In Time

3. Toot, Toot, Tootsie

4. What Is There To Say

5. Dearly Beloved

6. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

7. Cutie

8. It Could Happen To You

9. Mangoes

10. Funky Hotel Blues

x

Track List: Way Out West

1. I'm An Old Cowhand

3. Solitude

4. Come, Gone

6. Wagon Wheels

7. There Is No Greater Love

8. Way Out West

Comments

Report as inappropriate
erniegregory
It would be to not include brief history of Sonny as you did , however a listing of personnel of featured selection would be nice as well
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kimgordon11
Sonny is the Saxophonist of a Millennium ��
Report as inappropriate
Don't read this. You will be kissed by the love of your life on the nearest Friday. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Don't stop this is freaky. but if you ignore this you will get very bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in the next 143 minutes. When you are done hit the space bar and your crushes name will appear on the screen in big letters.
Report as inappropriate
Love Jones soundtrack. .
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nylesfrench7
COOL FRENCHY

Very HIP, Bebop, Hard bop, S**t. Sonnydoinf The Big Apple, PROUD, still
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Lkinffvgcu ubiihbi kikhubunnojn j n s h n
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What's your relly name
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yourmv
Sweetness in the sound
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This is the man who everyone acknowledged as the best on the Tenor Sax in 1959........ . . . H e thought he wasn't as good as he could be. Entered into a self imposed sabbatical from performing. Went up onto a bridge in New York almost everyday .......to Practice. Three years later he thought he was finally Good Enough. Returned to performing again....... a n d the rest is indeed a glorious history.
Report as inappropriate
Rollins' music is classic
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Artistry at work......
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Sonny is the man!
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One of the Great Ones. You can check out some very fine interviews with Sonny on You tube.
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Yes, Yes, AND,Yes !!!!! 1966/ 9 NYC i THINK, HA HA ONE OF THE Best YES ?
Report as inappropriate
poppa_bear49
Can't get enough of this man. BLOW SONNY BLOW!!!
Report as inappropriate
Sonny Rollins playing my favorite Duke Ellington song, In a Sentimental Mood. What a profoundly moving musical moment. And that's Milt Jackson on vibes. This just gets better and better.
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Sweet music to my ears
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I saw this man 10 years ago, he was so amazing... playing seemed no harder than breathing for him!
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East Broadway Rundown? - A western world wake up call to genius. Bravo Sonny Rollins! from a fan 19 years younger than you. Keep it up brother, Joey
Report as inappropriate
I heard If ever I would leave you a few years back while listening to KSDS in San Diego and have been collecting his albums ever since!
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I play a Tenor sax so this makes me happy!
Report as inappropriate
dammithoney
'Blue seven' is the perfect jazz solo. Check it out.
Report as inappropriate
There are few Gods of Jazz, and Mr. Rollins is one of them.
Report as inappropriate
This man jams and takes no prisoners!
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Great Jazz sounds from this guy Sonny Rollins but never bought any of his recordings in my younger days. Heard of him though. Great sounds anyway.
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Words cannot express what Sonny's sound brings to life. His music has been dancing in my head since I was 10 years old, I'll be 65 in 2 months. BLOW SONNY BLOW!!
Report as inappropriate
Oh sonny. ��
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No one on Earth can play like Sonny. He is THE god of Tenor Sax.
Report as inappropriate
jeffreymqs64 1
Interested on making some extra cash? go to BLUDOS.COM You can make $300+ a week easily. Its free so no scam here.
Report as inappropriate
Unforgivable that above Sonny quotes are for $ or feelgood shite... No one sounz like him. Do u know how jazz sounz like voices as u fall asleep? Sonny's words more clear than anyone else...
Report as inappropriate
claricentp91 7
Guys if you want to make a few extra bucks per day using your computer go to BLUDOS.COM You can take surveys for cash there. You can just try it. It's FREE.
Report as inappropriate
shawnnavuz71 1
If you'd like to make extra cash using your computer check out BLUDOS.COM you can make money by filling out surveys. It's free to start.
Report as inappropriate
Sonny is simply the greatest. I have heard almost all the great sax players, including Bird. Only Parker impressed me more. Sonny feared no one and played with them all, including Coltrane. Trane is great but for me Sonny is greater.
Report as inappropriate
Oh yeah! Good stuff!
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I play his songs in jazz band
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I'm digin' the sound of his tenor more than ever.
Report as inappropriate
Giants still walk the earth, and one of them is named Sonny Rollins. I've seen him play many times and it has never been less than a very great pleasure. Live long and prosper, Mr. Rollins.
Report as inappropriate
blow sonny blow
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No Sullivan. I see Sonny's.
Report as inappropriate
anyone else seeing Max Roach's bio here instead of sonny's?
Report as inappropriate
Yep, I remember all of these guys. Sound track of my life. Time sure flies when your having fun. (and when your not too.) DMB
Report as inappropriate
I walked out on Sonny ... Satan sent a spector - a certain J.Millet to haunt my every breath ... jus sayin`
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LOVE this man. I have heard him live 3 times in the past 3 years and life just would not have been the same without it.
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If there was ever a movie about my life, this is would be my soundtrack!
Report as inappropriate
I love Sonny Rollins pursuit of perfection that comes through all of his music; his smooth yet intense driving saxophone. His playing is melodic and articulate as if each note or series of notes are words telling a story. I actually interviewed him in the early 80s when he played at an UnderGround Fest that I co-produced.
Report as inappropriate
althelianbri a n
OHHHHHHHHHHH H MY :)
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Super Mad!!!
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Sonny!
Report as inappropriate
glenn.macy
Saw Sonny at the Schermerhorn in Nashville October 11. Sublime! Still has the smoothness after all these decades. Watch Kobie Watkins, his current drummer. Great things coming his way!
Report as inappropriate
we love us some Sonny Rollins for sure.
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