Sonny Rollns with PresidentYes, yes, I know. Sonny Rollins is 83 today, and Rifftides is joining the celebration late. There is a reason but no excuse. We jump on the birthday bandwagon by bringing you Rollins playing an extended version of a tune his mother remembered from her girlhood in the Virgin Islands. “St. Thomas” has been an essential and beloved part of his repertoire for more than 50 years. The rhythm section Is Kenny Drew, piano; Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, bass; Albert “Tootie” Heath, drums. The video is from Denmark in 1968. Happy birthday to a great musician and a great American.

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  1. dick vartanian says

    He made a “god” out of a “saint” and probably saints of the others. Kenny was his wonderful self

  2. jeffsultanof says

    I had the privilege of preparing a book of his improvised solos for publication by Hal Leonard. Rollins decided that this would be a different type of transcription book, in that he would pick the tunes and the performances and they would all come from live, unissued tapes he had made privately. He sent me a cassette tape and I sent them out to be transcribed (I donated the tape to the Institute of Jazz Studies). Rollins is one of the kindest, deepest people I have ever worked with, and he and I both were very proud of the book when it was published. Needless to say, working with him has been one of the highlights of my professional life, and I hope he is around for a very long time.

  3. Tim says

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be Sonny Rollins. Something about the way he held the sax UP. My parents steered me away from music, toward football. I guess they didn’t see much of a future for me as a Black jazz musician. I didn’t have much promise as a footballer, either. Luckily, I have had fifty plus years of digging Sonny Rollins’ artistry. Belated Happy Birthday, Sonny. You are a treasure.