Cover art for podcast Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

51 EpisodesProduced by Christopher LydonWebsite

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

39:22

Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus

There’s nobody quite like Sonny Rollins in the All-American sound and story of jazz. He was a teenager in Harlem in the 1940s when major players caught on to a rising star. Steadily over the decades, he built one of the genius careers on the tenor saxophone, alongside his rival and friend John Coltrane. More than that, Sonny Rollins was making his music a way of life, a mission of self-study and self-improvement, a moral and philosophical course of inquiry and reinvention—of gentleness and peace—all at the same time.

Biographer Aidan Levy. Credit: Jahsie Ault.

In his 93rd year of life, Sonny Rollins now has the affirmation of a 700-page biography, meticulous and monumental—modeled on Robin Kelley’s life of Sonny’s friend Thelonious Monk. It lets all of us see Sonny Rollins up with Walt Whitman and a few others on the Olympus of American art and storytelling.

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