Throughout his life as a tenor saxophonist, Theodore Walter 'Sonny' Rollins has been committed to the fundamental truths of jazz, especially swing, while managing also to be consistently experimental and forward looking, and his recorded oeuvre includes at least a dozen albums essential to any serious collection. Yet Rollins is an enigmatic figure. The idealist who wrote the renowned and controversial Freedom Suite and who memorably declared "jazz means no barriers" has also been prey to periods of diffidence, at times withdrawing from the music scene altogether. This new appraisal charts in full the somewhat fitful career of an artist who at his best remains one of jazz's most noble improvisers. Transcriptions of three of Rollins' solos are included.
Richard Palmer is a jazz journalist and author of several books including Deceptions: The Work of Philip Larkin (2003). He is editor of A Jazz Odyssey by Oscar Peterson (Continuum, 2002)