By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Rollins, who turns 70 this September, is still going strong, currently on a planet-circling tour that takes him through Japan in May and June, and then on to appearances in Canada and France. His last studio record, Global Warming, was released in 1998, but the reissues continue to flow, reminding us of just how well Rollins's earlier work continues to hold up against any of today's young jazz turks. Next on the reissue front is The Freelance Years, a five-CD box set that includes music recorded in 1957 and 1958 for Way Out West, Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders, Freedom Suite, and The Sound of Sonny.
"Then, I don't think I was as critical of my albums as I am now," Rollins said recently to one interviewer about those landmark albums. "I don't mean to say that, 'Oh, gee, this is all great!' Far from that. But when I made Freedom Suite, for instance, I was happy in my surroundings, playing with some very great musicians. I was pretty well satisfied with my progress."
Satisfied he may have been, but a note of complacency never arises on any of that playing. Instead what emerges is an artist who's continually trying to push himself toward the creative edges, crafting his art beside figures such as Monk, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, and the incomparable singer Abbey Lincoln (whose breathy tone seems almost tailor-made for wrapping around Rollins's propulsive attack). It's a quality that most definitely endures to this day.