Sonny Rollins, Benefactor


Sign in to view read count
Those who follow developments in the jazz community are accustomed to seeing occasional announcements about educational grants to musicians. Sonny Rollins this week reversed the order. He is becoming a donor. Oberlin College announced that the tenor saxophonist is giving the Oberlin Conservatory what the college describes as “a generous gift to establish and maintain the Oberlin Conservatory of Music Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund.” Beginning next spring, jazz studies majors at Oberlin will be allowed to audition for what will be known as The Sonny Ensemble. From the announcement:

Each student’s candidacy will be considered on the basis of four criteria: an audition before Oberlin’s jazz faculty, evidence of academic achievement, thoughtful response to a question about the place of jazz in the world, and service to humanity.

The dean of the Conservatory, Andrea Kalyn, said, “That the legendary Sonny Rollins—an artist of truly extraordinary accomplishment, soulfulness, and character—would entrust Oberlin to steward his legacy is the highest honor, and deeply humbling."

To read the complete announcement, go here:

Here is a sample of what Oberlin refers to as Mr. Rollins’s soulfulness and character. Perhaps it is not necessary to also point out his musicianship, control and compatibility with the remarkable guitarist Jim Hall. This is “The Bridge,” which debuted in 1962 on the indispensible Rollins album of that title. In this version from Ralph J. Gleason’s Jazz Casual television program, Ben Riley is the drummer, Bob Cranshaw the bassist.

Let’s listen to Rollins and watch him in his dramatic shirt 35 years later in an extended solo at a concert in Japan. The piece is briefly identified on the screen, but in case you glance away and miss it, it’s “Falling in Love with Love” by Richard Rodgers. Not that they have much to do in this clip, but the supporting players are Clifton Anderson, trombone, Stephen Scott, piano; John Lee, bass, Steve Jordan, drums; and Victor See Yeng, percussion.

Sonny Rollins and company in Japan in 1997.

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

Post a comment


Shop Amazon

Jazz News

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.