Rollins, Sonny

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Jazz composer and saxophonist Sonny Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. His parents, immigrants from the U.S. Virgin Islands, raised him in Manhattan's central Harlem and Sugar Hill neighborhoods. Rollins received his first alto saxophone at seven years old; and was heavily influenced by saxophonist Charlie Parker by the time he enrolled at Edward W. Stitt Junior High School. Rollins switched to tenor saxophone, and was mentored by pianist Thelonious Monk.

Upon graduating from high school, Rollins made his first recordings with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro. He went on to record with such jazz legends as Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. In 1954, Rollins' compositions "Oleo," "Airegin," and "Doxy" were featured on Miles Davis'Bags' Groove. He later moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he became immersed in the jazz scene at Hyde Park's Bee Hive club. When Clifford Brown and Max Roach's band visited Chicago, Rollins was invited to join them, returning to New York City in the summer of 1956. After the tragic deaths of Brown and the band's pianist, Rollins left the band to lead his own group, recording the acclaimed albumSaxophone Colossus, which included Rollins' calypso-inspired composition "St. Thomas." In 1957, Rollins pioneered the use of bass and drums, without piano, as accompaniment for saxophone solos, a format later adopted by such band leaders like Lew Tabackin, Branford Marsalis, and Ornette Coleman. In 1958, he recordedFreedom Suite, which received a limited release before being repackaged by Riverside Records.

In 1959, Rollins spent two years practicing yoga and playing saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge. In 1962, he releasedThe Bridge, which was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also produced five other albums. Rollins experimented with free jazz and noise onEast Broadway Run Down, released in 1962. He took another hiatus from 1969 to 1971, travelling to Jamaica and to an ashram in Powai, India. Rollins then began recording more R&B and funk-oriented tracks with Milestone Records, appearing at New York City's Museum of Modern Art and onThe Tonight Show. In 1998, Rollins, a dedicated environmental advocate, releasedGlobal Warming.

Rollins recorded over sixty albums, and was the subject of many documentaries. He received numerous awards and honors, including the Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

Sonny Rollins was interviewed byThe HistoryMakerson December 3, 2016.

From The HistoryMakers™ biography: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/A2016.113

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn Rudee, M. Lea. San Diego jazz photographs, 1981-1991. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... Theme from Tchaikovsky's. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... Like someone in love [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Markowitz, Phil. Phil Markowitz, piano [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... The cutting edge / Sonny Rollins, saxo. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Collection of 68 letters and 30 postcards, autograph and typed, most signed, to John Clellon Holmes; with: 1 typed letter to Alan Harrington, and 1 uncompleted letter from Neal Cassady to Holmes; Jack Kerouac autograph manuscript comprising a critique of John Clellon Holmes's novel "Go"; t.l.s. from [Kit and Arthur Knight] to Alfred Hirsch, July 24, 1983; t.l.s. from Maurice Neville to Alfred Hirsch, July 26, 1983. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Duke Ellington recordings collection Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... Like someone in love. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Abercrombie, Gertrude, 1909-1977. Gertrude Abercrombie papers, 1880-1986, bulk, 1935-1977. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Kalyn, James. Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Band. Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... Sonny moon for two. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Tabackin, Lew. Saxophone Saturday [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Brewer, Paul. [A musical presentation] [sound recording] : [Music Building, Room 135, Thursday, 8:00 p.m., November 20, 1975 / Carol Brewer, soprano ; Paul Brewer, trombone ; assisted by Jeanette Renfro ... [et al.] ; numbers arranged by Mr. Brewer]. University of Central Oklahoma, Chambers Library
referencedIn Gertrude Abercrombie papers, circa 1880-1986, bulk 1935-1977 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Ambassador Auditorium Collection, 1974-1995 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. NCSA Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Waters, Keith John, 1958-. Keith Waters, jazz piano [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Abercrombie, Gertrude, 1909-1977. Gertrude Abercrombie papers, 1888-1986. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... Theme from Tchaikovsky's [Multimédia multisupport]. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Rollins, Sonny, 1930-.... The cutting edge [Multimédia multisupport] / Sonny Rollins, saxo. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. NCSA Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Sonny Rollins The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Abercrombie, Gertrude, 1909-1977. person
associatedWith Dodge, Joseph Jeffers person
associatedWith Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. person
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Band. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith Rudee, M. Lea. person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Waters, Keith John, 1958- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Woodstock (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
Richmond (Calif.)
Subject
Occupation
Jazz Composer
Saxophonist
Activity

Person

Birth 1930-09-07

Birth 19300907

Americans

Information

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