Sonny Rollins Photography

Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins grew up in Harlem when it was the cultural center of black America—particularly in the creative arts. He debuted in 1949 and was quickly regarded as the most talented and innovative jazz saxophonist since Charlie Parker, allowing him the opportunity to perform and record with legends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

Rollins took regular breaks when he felt dissatisfied with the music business. He often sought a spiritual path, including visits to Japan and India where he practiced yoga, studied Zen, and meditated at a monastery. This downtime brought him peace and tranquility, which in turn helped him return to performing and recording with a renewed focus.

Rollins’ status as the most enduring tenor saxophonist of the bebop and hard bop era has come with ample recognition. He has amassed multiple Grammys (as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award), Kennedy Center Honors, and a presidential National Medal of Arts for his contributions to American jazz music. Now in his seventh decade as a performer, this “Saxophone Colossus” is one of the last surviving jazz giants of his generation.

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