Rollins, Sonny

Rollins, Sonny

(Theodore Walter Rollins), 1930–, African-American tenor saxophonist and composer, b. New York City. A master of jazz improvisation, Rollins is known for his rich tone, emotional depth, and inventive use of melody, harmony, and rhythm. From 1949 to 1954 he was a sideman on recordings by such bop luminaries as Miles DavisDavis, Miles,
1926–91, American jazz musician, b. Alton, Ill. Rising to prominence with the birth of modern jazz in the mid-1940s, when he was a sideman in Charlie Parker's bop quintet, Davis became a dominant force in jazz trumpet.
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, Thelonius MonkMonk, Thelonius
(Thelonius Sphere Monk), 1917–82, American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, b. Rocky Mount, N.C. Monk is considered one of the most important, and eccentric, figures in modern jazz.
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, and Charlie ParkerParker, Charlie "Bird"
(Charles Christopher Parker, Jr.), 1920–55, American musician and composer, b. Kansas City, Kans. He began playing alto saxophone in 1933 and, shifting from one band to another, eventually met Dizzy Gillespie in New York City.
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 and also composed such now-classic tunes as "Doxy," "Oleo," and "Airegin." Rollins has since led numerous jazz groups and made some 100 recordings; among the most acclaimed are Saxophone Colossus (1956), Freedom Suite (1958), and the Alfie film score (1966). He also has toured extensively, often fusing bop with elements of rock, soul, and other musical styles in ensemble performances, and impressing audiences with his complex improvised solos.

Bibliography

See studies by C. Blancq (1983), E. Nisenson (2000), P. N. Wilson (2001), and R. Palmer (rev. ed. 2004).

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