Sonny Rollins: amazing interview in the NY Times Magazine

WordMan

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Link here, but I assume it is behind a paywall: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive...on=click&module=Editors Picks&pgtype=Homepage

The NY Times writer David Marchese has a regular Interview column that is solid - I have read a few across a variety of folks from different backgrounds and Marchese has done his homework to ask thoughtful questions.

But he is a clearly a Sonny Rollins-Head. I will paste in a couple of questions here:

Quoting a specific passage on a bebop track to follow-up on a question asked of Rollins about playing for a higher cause vs arrogance:

Were you playing for a higher cause on something like “The Serpent’s Tooth” with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis? In your solo you quoted the melody of "Anything you Can Do I can do Better" That wasn’t intended as a provocation? If I was so stupid to have to implied that, then I was ignorant. I was in Miles’s band at the time and “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” was just one of the riffs that we played. It had nothing to do with my attitude about Charlie Parker. I would never say that to him. But I take your criticism. I might have been a foolish young boy playing that to his guru. If there was a little of that, it was sophomoric. I was ignorant. I am still ignorant about many things.

Or check out this exchange on how Sonny approached a solo with Coltrane:

I’m also thinking about when you played with Coltrane on Tenor Madness.
There’s a part of that performance where you guys were trading fours and he played a lick and in response you played the same lick but with the notes reversed. That wasn’t meant as one-upmanship?
David, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this to many people. When I played with Coltrane, I had the impression — and back then it was true — that I was much more popular than him. I remember what Kamasi Washington said about “Tenor Madness”: “Sonny, you weren’t even really playing.” I wasn’t really playing. Coltrane was playing. I was only playing halfway, because I thought that I was the guy and that Coltrane was this young whippersnapper. That was my mind-set. It was immature.

So you were holding back to show your status? Exactly. I don’t want people to think that I’m saying, “Oh, wow, I could have played much better,” but that’s the story of “Tenor Madness.” My attitude on it wasn’t right.

************
Good stuff. He goes on to discuss how he is not playing any longer due to his health but feels good because "he has most stuff figured out." I bet he does. Respect!
 

Trevordog

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Link here, but I assume it is behind a paywall: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/24/magazine/sonny-rollins-interview.html?action=click&module=Editors Picks&pgtype=Homepage

The NY Times writer David Marchese has a regular Interview column that is solid - I have read a few across a variety of folks from different backgrounds and Marchese has done his homework to ask thoughtful questions.

But he is a clearly a Sonny Rollins-Head. I will paste in a couple of questions here:

Quoting a specific passage on a bebop track to follow-up on a question asked of Rollins about playing for a higher cause vs arrogance:

Were you playing for a higher cause on something like “The Serpent’s Tooth” with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis? In your solo you quoted the melody of "Anything you Can Do I can do Better" That wasn’t intended as a provocation? If I was so stupid to have to implied that, then I was ignorant. I was in Miles’s band at the time and “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” was just one of the riffs that we played. It had nothing to do with my attitude about Charlie Parker. I would never say that to him. But I take your criticism. I might have been a foolish young boy playing that to his guru. If there was a little of that, it was sophomoric. I was ignorant. I am still ignorant about many things.

Or check out this exchange on how Sonny approached a solo with Coltrane:

I’m also thinking about when you played with Coltrane on Tenor Madness.
There’s a part of that performance where you guys were trading fours and he played a lick and in response you played the same lick but with the notes reversed. That wasn’t meant as one-upmanship?
David, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this to many people. When I played with Coltrane, I had the impression — and back then it was true — that I was much more popular than him. I remember what Kamasi Washington said about “Tenor Madness”: “Sonny, you weren’t even really playing.” I wasn’t really playing. Coltrane was playing. I was only playing halfway, because I thought that I was the guy and that Coltrane was this young whippersnapper. That was my mind-set. It was immature.

So you were holding back to show your status? Exactly. I don’t want people to think that I’m saying, “Oh, wow, I could have played much better,” but that’s the story of “Tenor Madness.” My attitude on it wasn’t right.

************
Good stuff. He goes on to discuss how he is not playing any longer due to his health but feels good because "he has most stuff figured out." I bet he does. Respect!
I recently learned that "The Serpent's Tooth" was yet another song that Miles Davis ripped off another musician.
In this case, Jimmy Heath was supposed to play on that session, but Miles cancelled Heath a day before to use Bird instead.
Heath asked him if he could record one of Heath's tunes, "The Serpent's Tooth".
Miles said yes, and Heath ran the tune over to him.
When the record came out, it said, 'Serpent's Tooth (Miles Davis)'. Heath's name was never mentioned.
When asked about it, Heath said he was young and naive back then.
 

WordMan

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I recently learned that "The Serpent's Tooth" was yet another song that Miles Davis ripped off another musician.
In this case, Jimmy Heath was supposed to play on that session, but Miles cancelled Heath a day before to use Bird instead.
Heath asked him if he could record one of Heath's tunes, "The Serpent's Tooth".
Miles said yes, and Heath ran the tune over to him.
When the record came out, it said, 'Serpent's Tooth (Miles Davis)'. Heath's name was never mentioned.
When asked about it, Heath said he was young and naive back then.
I didn't know Miles had a rep as someone who took songs.
 

WordMan

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Trevordog

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I Googled Miles Davis Steals Music and Miles Davis Rips off Music and found one article: https://www.theatlantic.com/technol...1and-how-it-ended-up-on-his-tombstone/259556/

I am in no way saying he didn't do it, I am saying it doesn't appear to be as easy to search on as you say. As a comparable search, if I Google "Led Zeppelin steals music" I get more hits than I know what to do with ;)
Alright, just from memory:
Blue in Green (stolen from Bill Evans)
Four (stolen from some tenor player
Donna Lee (stolen from Fats Navarro) (although also attributed to Charlie parker)
Solar (stolen from Chuck Wayne)
The serpent's Tooth (stolen from Jimmy Heath)
I'll look up some other ones later...
Flamenco Sketches (also Bill Evans' ideas)
 
Last edited:

WordMan

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7,212
Alright, just from memory:
Blue in Green (stolen from Bill Evans)
Four (stolen from some tenor player
Donna Lee (stolen from Fats Navarro) (although also attributed to Charlie parker)
Solar (stolen from Chuck Wayne)
The serpent's Tooth (stolen from Jimmy Heath)
I'll look up some other ones later...
Helpful. Thanks. Found this on Wiki about Blue in Green: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_in_Green
"It has long been speculated that pianist Bill Evans wrote "Blue in Green",[1] even though the LP and most jazz fakebooks credit only Davis with its composition. In his autobiography, Davis maintains that he alone composed the songs on Kind of Blue. The version on Evans' trio album Portrait in Jazz, recorded in 1959, credits the tune to "Davis-Evans". Earl Zindars, in an interview conducted by Win Hinkle, said that "Blue in Green" was 100% written by Bill Evans.[2] In a radio interview broadcast on May 27, 1979, Evans himself said that he had written the song. On being asked about the issue by interviewer Marian McPartland, he said: "The truth is I did [write the music]... I don't want to make a federal case out of it, the music exists, and Miles is getting the royalties...."[3] Evans recounted that when he suggested that he was entitled to a share of the royalties, Davis wrote him a check for $25.[4]"
 




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