This Week In Music

Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins grew up in New York's Harlem within walking distance of cultural landmarks like the Apollo Theater and the Savoy Ballroom. Growing up, Rollins counted Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong as influences, taking up the alto sax to be like Louis Jordan, who he also admired. Rollins' appreciation of Coleman Hawkins' playing convinced him to concentrate on the tenor sax instead. With an uncompromising attitude toward his craft, Rollins' repertoire incorporates everything from calypso themes to songs that have become clichés, transforming them into new creations through his wit and his gifts for invention and improvisation.

His peers, including members of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonius Monk, and Miles Davis recognized Rollins' talent early. Davis, a big fan of Rollins, said of him, "People loved Sonny Rollins up in Harlem and everywhere else. He was a legend, almost a god to a lot of the younger musicians. Some thought he was playing the saxophone on the level of Bird. I know one thing—he was close. He was an aggressive, innovative player who always had fresh musical ideas."

Hal Leonard Sonny Rollins Vol 33 Book/CD 10 Jazz Classics Jazz Play Along By the end of the 1950s, Rollins was considered one of the most innovative and skilled tenor saxophonists performing jazz. (Among his most noted innovations were the piano-less trio consisting of sax, bass, and drums, and records consisting entirely of solo sax.)

Yet no one was a bigger critic of Rollins' playing than he was. Dubious of the recognition coming his way, Rollins disappeared from public performance, as he put it, "to brush up on various aspects of my craft." It was during this period that Rollins could be heard honing his chops outdoors on New York's Williamsburg Bridge—solely for his own benefit. His first album when he returned to performing in 1962 was titled—not surprisingly—The Bridge.

Always inventive, and always restless, Rollins took another leave from the music business in 1966. During this sabbatical Rollins explored his inner world, visiting Japan to study Zen and spending time in an Indian monastery examining Eastern religions. Rollins marked his return to performing with a 1972 recording called Next Album, a new label, and a fruitful period that yielded two-dozen albums, many of them self-produced.

Rollins' first Grammy was for This is What I Do in 2000. A Lifetime Achievement Grammy followed in 2004. Rollins achieved a triple win in the 2006 DownBeat Readers Poll for Jazzman of the Year, Number One Tenor Sax Player, and Recording of the Year. In 2010, just before his 80th birthday, Rollins was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In March of 2011, President Obama presented Rollins with the Medal of Arts—the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence.


Singer, songwriter, and record producer Otis Redding, born in Dawson, Georgia, September 9, 1941, records his Hit "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay" just three days before he is killed in a 1967 plane crash.

Singer-songwriter and producer Otis Ray Redding, Jr., is widely considered to be one of the most influential popular musical performers, despite a tragically brief career. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists Redding's recordings of "Shake," "(Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay," and "Try a Little Tenderness" among the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

Redding's breakthrough to fame is the stuff of music industry legend. A regional music star after winning a local talent contest 15 times in a row, Redding was part of Johnny Jenkins' Pinetoppers and was also serving as the group's driver. At the end of a 1962 Pinetoppers' recording session at the famous Stax studios in Memphis, Redding sang two songs. One of them, "These Arms of Mine," launched his career by garnering the attention of record exec Jim Stewart and manager Phil Walden who enthusiastically backed the young performer.

Introducing a clean strong rhythm and blues style, Redding arranged and composed his own songs—often with the collaboration of guitarist Steve Cropper. The Cropper and Redding tune "(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay" was recorded only three days before Redding's death at age 26. Redding and his backup band, The Bar-Kays, had appeared on a television show in Cleveland and were flying to Madison, Wisconsin when a mechanical problem forced their plane down into a lake, killing all but one of the seven people aboard. "(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay" was released in January 1968, becoming Redding's only number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100, and the first posthumous number one single in the U.S.

Otis Redding was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The U.S. Postal Service issued an Otis Redding postage stamp in 1993. Redding was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and awarded a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He is listed by Rolling Stone as number 21 on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and is eighth on their "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" list.


Week of August 29, 2011
Event: George Gershwin Completes the Orchestral Score for His Opera Porgy and Bess

Birthday: Charlie Parker, August 29, 1920

Week of August 22, 2011
Event: Charles G. Conn Receives a Patent for the Metal Clarinet

Birthday: Leonard Bernstein, August 25, 1918

Week of August 15, 2011
Event: The New York Times Reports that Dolby had Developed a Noise Reduction System for Album and Tape Recording

Birthday: Marc O'Connor, August 15, 1961

Week of August 08, 2011
Event: 14-Year-Old Benny Goodman Works as a Clarinet Player on a Lake Michigan Excursion Boat

Birthday: Pat Metheny, August 12, 1954

Week of August 01, 2011
Event: The Army of France Adds Saxophonesto its Military Bands

Birthday: Tony Bennett, August 3, 1926

Week of July 18, 2011
Event: First Newport Jazz Festival

Birthday: Carl Fontana Born July 18, 1928

Week of July 11, 2011
Event: "His Masters Voice" Trademark Registered

Birthday: Bélla Fleck Born July 10, 1958

Week of July 5, 2011
Event: Benny Goodman and His Band Record "Sing, Sing, Sing"

Birthday: Pinetop Perkins Born July 7, 1913

Week of June 27, 2011
Event: Cab Calloway and His Orchestra Record "St. James Infirmary""

Birthday: Pete Fountain Born July 3, 1930

Week of June 20, 2011
Event: 19 Year-Old Arturo Toscanini Conducts the Rio de Janeiro Orchestra in a Performance of "Aida"

Birthday: Lalo Schifrin Born June 21, 1932

Week of June 13, 2011
Event: New York Jazz Museum Opens

Birthday: Marcus Miller Born June 14, 1959

Week of June 06, 2011
Event: Jelly Roll Morton Records "Jelly Roll Blues" As a Piano Solo

Birthday: Bill Watrous Born June 08, 1939

Week of May 30, 2011
Event: 1962 Bandleader Benny Goodman Leads The First American Jazz Band to Play In The Soviet Union

Birthday: Benny Goodman Born May 30, 1909

Week of May 23, 2011
Event: "In a Precursor to Outdoor Rock Festivals, Ray Charles and B.B. King Perform For 9,000 Fans in Atlanta

Birthday: Miles Davis Born May 26, 1926

Week of May 16, 2011
Event: "When The Saints Go Marching In" Recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra

Birthday: Woody Herman Born May 16, 1913

Week of May 2, 2011
Event: New York's Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center Announces Addition of Rock, Pop, and Jazz Concerts

Birthday: Maynard Ferguson Born May 4, 1928

Week of April 25, 2011
Event: At Decca Studios Charlie Parker Made His First Commercial Recording April 30, 1941

Birthday: Duke Ellington Born April 29, 1899

Week of April 18, 2011
Event: Pipeless Organ Patented by Laurens Hammond April 24, 1934

Birthday: Tito Puente Born April 20, 1923

Week of April 4, 2011
Event: Herp Alpert Born April 4, 1939

Birthday: Freddie Hubbard Born April 7, 1938

Week of March 28, 2011
Birthday: Michael Brecker Born March 29, 1949

Birthday: Herp Alpert Born March 31, 1935

Week of March 14, 2011
Event: Joseph Haydn's Surprise Symphony Is Performed for the First Time March 23, 1792

Birthday: Johann Sebastian Bach Born March 21, 1685

Week of March 7, 2011
Event: Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians Recorded Auld Lang Syne March 7, 1939

Birthday: Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke March 10, 1903

Week of February 28, 2011
Event: Miles Davis Records "Kind of Blue" on Columbia Records March 2, 1959
Birthday: Frédéric Chopin Marc 1, 1810

Week of February 21, 2011
Event: Duke Ellington Records "The Queen's Suite"
Birthday: Dexter Gordon February 27, 1923

Week of February 14, 2011
Event: Sonny Rollins Records his Title Track "The Bridge" February 14, 1962
Birthday: Buddy DeFranco February 17, 1923

Week of February 7, 2011
Event: Rhapsody in Blue is Performed for the First Time February 12, 1924
Birthday: Marion "Buddy" Childers February 12, 1926

Week of January 31, 2011
Event: Frank Sinatra Debuts on Radio's "Your Hit Parade" February 6, 1943
Birthday: Stanley "Stan" Getz February 2, 1927

Week of January 24, 2011
Event: Original Dixieland Jazz Band Makes the First Jazz Record January 30, 1917
Birthday: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart January 27, 1756