Sonny Rollins on "Moritat"

Sonny Rollins in 2011
I must make a confession: I've never seriously checked out Sonny Rollins — in particular, I haven't given Saxophone Colossus (1956) or A Night at the Village Vanguard (1957) their due in my listening rotation. I actually used to have a very hard time listening to Sonny. His sound seemed extraordinarily harsh and unrefined; to my ears now, though, I hear his sound as being raw and muscular, which has a certain appeal in some contexts. If Dexter is the compactly built Olympic powerlifter, then Sonny might be the Strongman competing in the World's Strongest Man contest (anybody out that new New Yorker article? Wild stuff). 

I did check out "Moritat" on Saxophone Colossus last semester, though, just for the time feel—particularly on the head in. I ended up transcribing the solo, too, but playing along with the head was very instructive. Here's the solo on "Mack the Knife":

Triplets and turns make the lines so surprising but in the pocket (mm. 9, 16, 30)

It's incredible how much mileage Sonny gets out of ideas, like mm. 58-61.

I didn't realize wild mm. 88-92 really were until I tried notating them.



  1. Very useful thanks! Any chance of uploading this as a pdf

    1. Sure, just published the links at the bottom of the post.


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