Jazz

Sonny Rollins: “The Bridge” and “Alfie”

This is the beginning of the profile of the great tenor saxophone player Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins from his website:

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Living in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical peers included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew and Art Taylor, but it was young Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.

It is purely coincidental that I am featuring Rollins two days after Jim Hall, the guitarist featured in “The Bridge” (above), passed away. Here is Hall’s New York Times obituary and a SoundCloud clip of Rollins’ reaction to the news.

Here is an except from Hall’s Wikipedia profile:

In the Jimmy Giuffre Three, Hall developed some of his own personal musical preferences, including “challenging arrangements and interactive improvisation in duos and trios.”[5] He taught at the Lenox School of Jazz in 1959; toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic; and worked with Ben Webster (1959), Bill Evans (1959), Paul Desmond (1959–65), Ella Fitzgerald in Europe (1960), Lee Konitz (1960–61), Sonny Rollins (1961-2, 1964), andArt Farmer (1962-1964). Working with all of these prominent and established artists furthered Hall’s career and aided in producing his own bands and own styles.[5]

“Alfie” is below.

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