This interview with Sonny Rollins was commissioned as an NEA Jazz Masters oral history in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Oral History Program, recorded on Feb. 28, 2011 at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC. Rollins, who was 80 years old at the time, seemed to enjoy the questions and the flow of the conversation, which stretched to nearly 3 hours, pausing only to change tapes.
Appelbaum: Let me begin by just asking some basics to establish some context.
Tell us first of all the date you were born and your full name at birth.
Rollins: Oh, I was afraid you were going to ask me that. Ok, my full name at birth was
Walter Theodore Rollins, and I was born September 7, Sunday morning, 1930 in Harlem,
America on 137th Street between Lenox and 7th Avenues. There was a midwife
that delivered me, and that was my–how I entered into this thing we call life.
On September 24, 2012, I interviewed saxophonist, composer, bandleader Wayne Shorter for the Smithsonian/NEA Jazz Masters Oral History Series. The first part of the interview can be found here. Here is the conclusion.
Appelbaum: So how do you tame the ego to strip away illusion and go into the unknown?
Shorter: This is by interacting…um…interacting with one another, interacting with the least expected entity…interacting with the next-door neighbor that you have never spoken to, maybe because they’re from another country, or they look different or anything like that…but interacting with them with… This is the name of the album that is going to come out, that I’m working on now. Interacting with them, and interacting with factions, aspects of life without a net. That’s the name of my album, Without A Net.
On September 24, 2012, I interviewed saxophonist, composer, bandleader Wayne Shorter for the Smithsonian/NEA Jazz Masters Oral History Series. For the interview, I did my research and prepared seven pages of questions. As it turns out, I didn’t ask a single one of them. Shorter was in an expansive mood that morning and I basically just listened and asked an occasional follow-up question. Here is Part 1 of that conversation, which began even before the interview started. Shorter was talking about bassist Ben Tucker buying up the publishing rights for Bobby Hebb’s song “Sunny.”