Sonny Rollins and The Bridge


There is a petition drive currently underway to get Sonny Rollins‘s name added to the Williamsburg Bridge.

Back in the day, when I was first getting into jazz, I had been told the legend of Sonny Rollins becoming a hermit from the NYC jazz scene to do some serious creative soul-searching, and that the saxophonist had found a refuge on the Williamsburg Bridge.  It had become his practice space, which led to new directions in his music.

John Loquidis of Jerry’s Record Exchange (once a gem of Denver’s Capitol Hill music store mecca) had all kinds of Rollins anecdotes from his own NYC days.  He was something of my mentor as I dedicated myself to a lifetime addiction to classic jazz recordings.  He helped guide me to stuff I might not otherwise have scooped up, and gave me some background on albums that might otherwise not quite register as strong without that knowledge.  The story of Rollins and the Bridge was the precursor to purchasing the Sonny Rollins album The Bridge, an album that came about as the result of Rollins’ residency above the East River.

I enjoyed the album just fine back then, and I still do now.  But knowing that history, of Rollins and his hours, days, months spent on the Williamsburg Bridge, it makes the album that much more special to me.  I, also, have gone into hiding when working on a new writing project, not seeing people I know and places I like to go to for months at a time, just because I’m on a new creative path and become so immersed in the navigation that everything else falls away.  Thinking about Rollins on that bridge as I listened to the music, it made everything resonate so much stronger for me.  The music became more than a series of notes pleasing to the ear; It also appealed to my psyche, and the struggle all creative endeavors inevitably lead.  It made the music feel more important to me, because it was important to Sonny and because that kind of action is essential to so many artists.

The Sonny Rollins Bridge Project is looking for signatures for its petition.

You can purchase a copy of the Sonny Rollins recording The Bridge on Amazon.