Sonny Rollins is the last “Saxophone Colossus”, to quote the title of his most famous album. Retired from the stage since 2014 – after a career spanning 65 years! –, Sonny Rollins is, at 92, the only survivor of a by-gone era, a time when jazz was the dominant style of popular music.
Be-bop is all the rage when he begins to make a name for himself at only 19, playing along the likes of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk. Heroin addiction almost puts an end to his promising career, but he successfully fights his drug dependence and comes back stronger. He introduces calypso rhythms and Caribbean tunes in his music, experiments with a piano-less trio, flirts with the avant-garde. In 1959, he takes the first of several sabbaticals: he starts doing yoga and practicing his tenor saxophone 15 hours a day on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York.
The following decades are a constant flurry of activity: records, tours, concerts… Covered with honours and official recognition, he performs in public for the last time in 2012, and retires two years later because of respiratory problems.