Christopher Carroll: “The Singular Sound of Sonny Rollins”

In this video from 1982, Sonny Rollins can be seen playing an extemporaneous medley in which he weaves together about a dozen disparate songs—including, but not limited to, the anvil chorus from Il Trovatore, the funeral march from Chopin’s second piano sonata, “A-Tisket, A Tasket,” (or, perhaps, “Iko Iko”), “Four,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the William Tell Overture. Then, after a playing a lick that seems to be a final nod to Louis Jordan, he jumps off the six-foot-high stage, breaks his foot, and then, supine, begins a lovely rendition of “Autumn Nocturne.”

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