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Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus
Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus
Actor: Sonny Rollins
Director: Robert Mugge
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 41min

A loving portrait of a jazz legend "Revelatory and engrossing" --The Boston Globe Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award®-winner Sonny Rollins has been called the greatest improviser in jazz. Celebrated filmmaker Robert Mugg...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Sonny Rollins
Director: Robert Mugge
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Pop, Jazz, Documentary
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/27/2009
Original Release Date: 12/12/1986
Theatrical Release Date: 12/12/1986
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Should Be Very Welcome to Jazz Lovers
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 01/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus," by the esteemed filmmaker Robert Mugge, has just been rereleased in a 25th Anniversary edition. The film gives us background on Rollins, live performance footage, a profile of the 20th century American jazz great, and interviews with his wife Lucille and several prominent jazz critics: Ira Gittlin, Gary Giddins, and Francis Davis. The film initially aired on Britain's BBC4, which commissioned it; and on the PBS, Bravo, and BET networks in this country.

Rollins speaks candidly about his life, creative process, spirituality and music in this film, named after one of his most acclaimed albums, Saxophone Colossus. The tenor saxophone master has won two Grammys, and a Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as being a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the country's highest jazz honor. He's still going strong: he opened the 2008 Chicago Jazz Festival before a crowd of 13,000, and earned critical raves. The documentarian Mugge filmed in downtown New York City; and a rock quarry turned bar in Saugerties, upstate New York, where we see him doing a fifteen minute "G-Man," and "Don't Stop the Carnival," among other compositions. We also see an old black/white clip of his playing an early big hit, "The Bridge," ground-breaking jazz in its time. Finally, we get some very interesting footage of Japan, as Rollins' lovely "Concerto for Tenor and Orchestra" receives its World Premier; Rollins explains onscreen that he and the Japanese are mutually fond of each other; that this, in 1984, is his twelfth tour there.

I've been lucky enough to see Rollins in person once, outdoors on a balmy spring evening, at New York's South Street Seaport. His beautiful, spiritual sound, as he was silhouetted against the sky, certainly made a memory for me.

Rollins mentions that he is of West Indian parentage, and one of the critics, Ira Gittlin, comments upon the fact, and how clear the Caribbean influences can be in the saxophonist's music. And my oh my, we certainly hear it ourselves, in the jump-up "Carnival" performed at Saugerties.

The "Jazz Times" has called Robert Mugge "the foremost chronicler of American music." The award-winning documentarian has made nearly 30 films about music, including Gospel According to Al Green, and New Orleans Music in Exile. This film should be very welcome to jazz lovers.