Black Music History "Giving Them Roses" – Day 3: Sonny Rollins

The Saxophone Colossus

A fixture in the jazz scene and community from the early fifties to present day… Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins was also a mainstay on Saturday mornings during my childhood… Two of his albums were in heavy rotation from my Pops collection… Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus (1956) is regarded as his best work and one of the greatest jazz albums of all-time… It includes his calypso influenced “St. Thomas” which has become a jazz standard… Also, there’s his rendition of “Mack The Knife” titled “Moritat” is a vibrant and refreshing take from the traditional version… However, it’s my dad’s self-proclaimed theme song, “Blue 7” that makes the album a cut above the rest… It was also my introduction to another jazz great, drummer Max Roach who’s solo, that runs from about the 4-minute mark until halfway through the sixth minute, I would try to emulate on my desk at home… The other Sonny album that would get plenty of play was the soundtrack to the movie Alfie (1966)… More precisely, it was theme title track, “Alfie’s Theme”, that would be played quite frequently… At the time, I hadn’t seen the movie and grew up assuming whomever this Alfie cat was he had to be the coolest mofo in the land for this to be played wherever you went… Later, I would learned that it was Michael Caine… and agreed it suited him… but anyway… this post is about the genius of Sonny Rollins… Here are some samples of that Colossal Genius…
One of the coolest songs ever…

This might be my favorite theme song after “Shaft”…

“Alfie’s Theme” performed live…

…then… Cool.

…now… Cool.

if you’re lucky enough to catch him in concert… 
…he may be in his traditional attire… wearing a dark blue suit… shades… and some Chuck’s on his feet…
…Cool is Sonny Rollins.

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