The Artistry of… Sonny Rollins

Ninety-year-old Sonny Rollins is a spiritual man. His spirituality is a kind of connection with a way of peace — at once with himself and with the universe. That peace parallels, spans, and balances the amazing body of work of his career.

He is no longer able to play for health reasons, and I can only imagine some of the soul-deep trauma of having to stop playing. But then I imagine the calming feeling that spiritual orientation provides an individual, like a buoyancy and a cushion. It can often be perplexing to those who do not choose to surround and invest their lives that way.

The way Rollins played dazzles, amazes, and touches — a selfless but powerfully moving and exciting sharing of artistry. The music towers and commands attention.

Musical sabbaticals led to balance and perspective through yoga, meditation, and Eastern philosophies, and included a famous period of time spent on New York’s Williamsburg Bridge — truly a residency of spirit and soul. That time well spent has led to a crusade to rename the bridge in his honour.

Sonny Rollins spanned, and spans, perspective and introspection, doing it all with a grooviest kind of soul inspection.

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.