Meeting on a gig with Miles Davis in the late ’40s at the Audubon Ballroom in New York, tenor saxophonists Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane—two of the greatest innovators of jazz to ever live—struck up not only a musical connection, but a personal friendship over the years of crossing paths. Stylistically, the two were moving in different, but intersecting circles. Where Trane was evolving harmonically, Sonny was evolving rhythmically and inflectionally. The two were a match made in musical heaven in a time that allowed them to interact on a musical and personal level. Rollins remembers Coltrane as a man who “when he said something, meant it. And that was different from most other people.”
Jazz musicians are actually very similar in a lot of ways to professional athletes (and quite a few of us are sports fans nonetheless). Today we’ve got further proof on a visual level with legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins and San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.
Mark De Clive Lowe celebrates the 1 year anniversary of his monthly LA party CHURCH, an innovative night of live jazz music elevated to the next level with improvised beat sessions. In the spirit of LA open jams, any variety of producers, musicians, singers, and lyricists come through to collaborate. Cats like Robert Glasper, Chris Daddy Dave or Ohmega Watts have sat in.
Sonny Rollins’ distinct tenor saxophone tone influenced generations of saxophonists and artists alike. Many of his compositions have become standards in the jazz realm while he continues to perform and write. Among his many recordings, there lies records in which he serves as leader and those in which he has accompanied Miles Davis, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gilliespie, and even the Rolling Stones.
The saxophone is one of the most dynamic of the instruments used in jazz. It has a vocal tonality that can range from raspy to airy and go from high and soaring to low and deep. On the morning of the photo shoot, thirteen of the most influential jazz saxophonists were photographed. Some of them, from first glance, may not be as recognizable as others but guaranteed their music speaks volumes.
This week we take a look at the evolution of the low end of the saxes, the baritone and tenors. These players have defined recordings, performances, sounds, and styles with their rhythmic sensibilities, tonal innovations, and harmonic compositions. Take a look as we go down the line.
The Jazz Journalists Association has released a list of hundreds of nominations in 39 categories ranging between music creation and music journalism. This year will be the 15th annual JJA Jazz Awards. Nominees include Sonny Rollins, Jason Moran, Esperanza Spalding, Joe Lovano, Vijay Iver, and more.
“If you start not accepting creativity and you start having manufactured songs, then what is—where is the industry going? What do you get inspiration from? You know what I mean? That’s why Miles was Miles, because he was really able to create, and just have a blank canvass and create masterpieces.” – Vince Wilburn