Friday night, I interviewed saxophonist Sonny Rollins for the Metroitimes, a weekly newspaper in Detroit, MI. It was my second telephone interview with him. I interviewed him in 2005 weeks before his performance at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI. Friday night, we talked like inseparable chums at a neighborhood pub mostly about his heroes, his love for playing in a trio format, and his practicing habits.
Rollins remembered our '05 interview, which made me feel special because I know I'm among a vast pool of jazz journalists who asked him to revisit key moments of his life.
Rollins used some profanity only to emphasize a points he wanted to convey.
He cherished knowing saxophonist Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. To Rollins, they were elegant jazz musicians, and he wanted to be like them.
His comments about practicing stuck to my ribs. As a youngster, he practiced religiously. He say practicing remains a spiritual process. Young musicians need to understand practicing got him to places such as Carnegie Hall.
The above photograph of Rollins hugging his tenor sax caught my attention. Before the second interview, I thumbed through the companion booklet from the box set Sonny Rollins The freelance Years(The Complete Riverside & Contemporary Recordings).
In the photo, Rollins looks meditative as if praying with his horn. The photo captured a certain spiritual quality that I think is telling.
By the way, my interview with Rollins will be published in the Metrotimes Wednesday Oct. 12th.