Give & Take with Musician Sonny Rollins - by F. Kaskais

Give & Take with Musician Sonny Rollins
Photo from Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

Lessons for living from one of jazz’s all-time greats.

Interview by Gabriel Lefferts

When Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins traveled to Japan in the mid-1960s—the first of several journeys the iconic jazz musician would take to East and South Asia to study yoga, meditation, and Eastern philosophy—he’d already seen enough peaks and valleys to fill a lifetime. In the two decades prior, Rollins had become renowned in his hometown of New York City for his distinctive improvisations on the tenor saxophone, but in that same period he served a ten-month jail term for armed robbery and spent years battling a heroin addiction. One of the jazz greats who found support in meditation and Eastern thought (along with John and Alice Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock, to name a few others), Rollins forged an eclectic spirituality informed by Buddhism, Hinduism, the…

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