Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins


Product Details

$35.00  $32.55
Hachette Books
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.25 X 2.25 inches | 2.15 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Aidan Levy is the author of Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed and editor of Patti Smith on Patti Smith: Interviews and Encounters. A former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, JazzTimes, and The Nation.


"Aidan Levy has provided the jazz world and beyond an important documentation of one of the greatest musicians of all time. Sonny Rollins spoke his own language through the saxophone--just check out his solo on 'Alfie'! And Saxophone Colossus provides for us in words a portal to deeper understanding of this legendary jazz giant!"--Terri Lyne Carrington, Grammy-winning drummer, producer, and composer
"The life and music of Sonny Rollins as chronicled by acclaimed author Aidan Levy is an insightful view into the daily struggles, achievements and spiritual journey of whom I like to refer to as the 'Maestro di Maestri, ' Mr. Sonny Rollins. All I can say is:
You will be enlightened as I am."
--Joe Lovano, saxophonist, composer, producer, educator and Grammy winner
"In this forensically researched biography of an American hero, the elusive Sonny Rollins stands revealed not only as the great Jazz Maker but a man of profundity and passions. By combining the story of his rise as a Saxophone Colossus with a picture of the Black artist in an age when social progress was not necessarily a given, Levy has produced a memorable book."--Val Wilmer, author of As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977
"Sonny Rollins told stories through his horn. His 'telling, ' no matter how intricate or elaborate, was always pure, honest, and vulnerable, while the storyteller himself remained elusive and intangible. Until now. In Aidan Levy, Mr. Rollins has found his chronicler, an immensely talented writer whose lyricism, mastery, and dedication to truth matches that of his subject. The result is an opera, a calypso, a magnificent symphony that captures All of Him: Sonny, Newk, Theodore, Wally, Brung Biji, and the one and only Saxophone Colossus."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
"When I was a boy, I knew nothing of Sonny Rollins, the man, but his music set me free. Now, forty-some-odd years later, this book has gifted me a profound, almost revelatory, appreciation of all it took for our singularly Great American Improviser to exist, to persist, to survive, to thrive, to comprehend, to transcend, to create, to liberate, to be -- at once the towering, omnipotent, immortal Colossus and the humble, gentle, questioning, questing human. Sonny Rollins has always been the master storyteller of the jazz idiom. What an illuminative joy it is to finally read the story of his own life so exhaustively and engagingly told."--Joshua Redman, Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer, and educator
"Sonny Rollins is the most acclaimed and celebrated jazz musician alive. His fearless creativity and willingness to test his limits are the stuff of leg- ends, as are his modesty, discipline and self-criticism. With deep research and meticulous documentation, Levy, with the aid of Rollins, gives us a revelatory and richer picture of the man and his era. A colossus of a book." --John Szwed, author of Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra and So What: The Life of Miles Davis
"[The] authoritative book on Rollins . . . among the best-researched books ever devoted to jazz." --Lewis Porter, Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, educator, and author of John Coltrane: His Life and Music and Playback with Lewis Porter

"[The] definitive account of a jazz icon."


"[Saxophone Colossus is filled with]...precise and ravishing descriptions of Rollins' music, 'tireless work ethic, ' inspirations, frustrations with the record industry, social and environmental activism, and surprising collaborations."

"Levy paints a vivid picture...Throughout SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS he weds his extensive research to a feel for detail and narrative; the book is certainly long, but it has too much great reporting to be dry."--Los Angeles Times
"Aidan Levy's indefatigable research and interviewing process has allowed him to fill SAXOPHONE COLOSSUS with a vast chorus of voices."
--The Wire
"An incredibly deep, well-researched and thoughtfully written biography."
"[Author Aidan Levy] distills essential truths... and ties strands of Mr. Rollins's history together in poignant ways."--Wall Street Journal
"A memorable work that will become the standard biography of the saxophone giant and should be embraced by all jazz fans and general readers. Highly recommended."--Library Journal
Boston Globe, "Best Books of 2022"

WBGO, "Jazz Lovers' Gift Guide"