The project, which seeks to rename the NYC bridge in the honor of legendary saxophonist, has already released a short documentary that champions their cause.

“Playing against the sky really does improve your volume and your wind capacity” said the great Sonny Rollins concerning his near three-year sabbatical in the summer of 1959. It was unheard of for a popular jazzman to do what Sonny did – to spend up to sixteen hours a day busking with a saxophone on the pedestrian walkway of NYC’s Williamsburg Bridge, shirking the trappings of the jazz scene in the meantime.

Instead, he focused on yoga, exercising, self-improvement, stopping smoking … eventually returning in 1961 as a refined player and a radical humanist. He went on to play for another half century in a star-studded career that included recording with the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach.

Now, at the ripe old age of eighty-seven, he is rightly considered one of the greatest improvisers who ever lived, and the Sonny Rollins Bridge Project wants to commemorate his career by renaming the bridge in his honor. His sabbatical – or wilderness years – has become a quintessential New York story, with New Yorkers and those from further afield supporting the name change proposal in a bill that now sits with the New York City Council.

To learn more watch this:


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