Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sonny Rollins

When my ISP was Prodigy, they used to have non-live chat sessions with various celebrities. They’d ask the particular groups if they had questions and the guest would select from those submitted. Two jazz guests I remember from that time (the early 90s) are Steve Turre’ and Sonny Rollins. Why just those two? Because they both answered the questions I submitted!
Sonny Rollins has played with pretty much everybody – Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, etc. I asked him which great players he regrets not playing with.
His reply: "I’ve worked with so many great people – all the people you mentioned I’ve got a special charge out of. I was very fortunate to be able to play with these people – I’ve learned something from all of them. I would have liked to play with Fats Waller, and with Louis Armstrong – just to name two. Thanks, Sonny Rollins"
At first, his reply puzzled me because I couldn’t imagine what he would have sounded like with either Waller or Armstrong, mainly since they were both pre-bop musicians. But actually, Sonny has a lot in common with them. They’re all virtuoso performers on their instruments who also were able to infuse their art with a great sense of humor and fun. (But unlike the other two, I don’t think Sonny sings!)
When Sonny played the Hollywood Bowl a few months later (September 14, 1994), I got a chance to meet him and asked him to sign my printout of his answer. He remembered it and asked me what I thought of his answer and asked if I was a musician also. Even though it was probably all of 3 minutes, it was pretty cool to hang with Sonny Rollins!
I’ve got the answer and autograph framed and hanging in my attic room. The inscription reads: "Thanks for the questions & keep the faith. Sonny Rollins 1994"

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