NYPL’s Schomburg Center Acquires Sonny Rollins Archive

Collection includes recordings, scores, personal papers, photos and drawings

Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins (photo by John Abbott)

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library (NYPL), has acquired tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins’ personal archive containing materials that document Rollins’ life and career from the 1950s to the present.

The archive includes reel and cassette recordings of practice sessions and other music, notes from recording sessions, personal photographs, sheet music with marginalia, diaries and other writings and handwritten letters exchanged between Rollins and his wife and manager, Lucille Pearson Rollins.

“Well, I’m home again,” Rollins said in a press release sent by the Schomburg Center to JazzTimes. “Home, where I absorbed the rich culture which was all around me. Where, on 137th Street, two blocks from the Schomburg, I was born in 1930. This archive reveals my life in music, how someone principally self-taught became taught. How the spiritual light of jazz protected and fed me, as it does to this day.”

The archive joins other Rollins-related items at NYPL including letters from Rollins to George Avakian (in the George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian papers) and several unreleased live and studio recordings from his tenure at RCA.

The archive will be available for research at the Schomburg Center after its initial cataloging and processing at NYPL’s Library Services Center.

For more information visit the Schomburg Center website.