Take it to the bridge

Sonny Rollins doesn’t play anymore because he can’t.

But there was a time when he stepped out of the jazz spotlight voluntarily, because he felt he wasn’t living up to his own musical expectations.

Rollins spent the next two years playing to the sky from the Williamsburg Bridge, spanning the East River in New York City. And 60 years ago this month, he returned to the studio for a session that led to his comeback album, “The Bridge.”

“What made me withdraw and go to the bridge was how I felt about my own playing,” says Rollins, now 91. “I knew I was dissatisfied.”

John Fordham of The Guardian has the story here.

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5 Responses to “Take it to the bridge”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Musicians are their own worst critics. It’s a shame many listen to that doubtful inner voice instead of their audiences. People who buy a ticket or show up when you perform are the only ones whose voices matter.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The artistic temperament, hey? It’s interesting to see how comics hone their acts in front of audiences before putting together an hourlong TV special meant to last for the ages (or at least until the next hourlong special).

      You’d think that a jazzman, whose art is of the moment, would be eager to work in front of a crowd. But maybe if you’re not feeling at the top of your game, you don’t trust yourself to make the best artistic use of that moment.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Live comedy, especially in front of a smaller crowd, has got to be tough with a capital T. Talk about immediate feedback. If it’s quiet in the venue, then the inner voice starts to scream, “you’re bombing, you better fix it quick or go home.”. How do you recover from that?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        For reals. We’ve all had a taste of that: Drop a joke into conversation and … crickets. Zero laughter. Plenty blank stares. Now imagine you’re getting paid and you’re just a minute into a 15-minute set in a room full of grumpy drunks. Oof.

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    There was something similar I heard/saw on NPR the other day

    https://www.npr.org/2022/01/13/1072565046/saxophonist-tony-malabys-unlikely-pandemic-practice-space-the-new-jersey-turnpik

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