I first met Sonny Rollins when I interviewed him for a cover story in 1978 for that other jazz magazine. I took the train up from Manhattan to his upstate New York home. Lucille, his late wife, picked me up at the train station. We had a spirited conversation in the car, en route to their simple, secluded home. As I walked up the stairs to that house, unchanged since that fall day, Sonny came out to greet me. He looked about ten feet tall.
I’d been listening to his music since I was a teenager, and had seen him live several times. But we’d never met. One of my friends, the late Walter Bishop, Jr., grew up in Harlem with Sonny, so we had a connection of sorts. Bish and Jackie McLean and Art Taylor and Sonny were young beboppers when Minton’s Place was happening in the mid-’40s.