Queens Jazz Orchestra Presents Forever Sonny: A Musical Tribute to Sonny Rollins on June 9

On Friday, June 9, under the direction of National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Jimmy Heath, the Queens Jazz Orchestra will perform a loving musical tribute to Jazz icon and friend, Sonny Rollins.

Photography by John Abbott

The Queens Jazz Orchestra, led by Queens resident Jimmy Heath, will perform special arrangements of Sonny Rollin’s classic compositions, including “Oleo” and “St. Thomas” and selections from his albums “Tenor Madness” and “Saxophone Colossus.” Jimmy Heath will also provide a special commentary about Sonny at the end of the show. Making up the Queens Jazz Orchestra is Jimmy Heath as Leader/Tenor Sax; Antonio Hart and Mark Gross on Alto/Soprano Sax; Bobby LaVell and Sam Dillon on Tenor Sax; Gary Smulyan on Bari Sax; John Mosca, Steve Davis, and Jason Jackson on Trombone; Douglas Purveyance on Bass Trombone; Frank Greene, Michael Mossman, Greg Gisbert and Diego Urcola on Trumpet; Jeb Patton on Piano; David Wong on Bass; and Evan Sherman on Drums.

The two legends have been close friends since 1950, so it was an easy choice for Mr. Heath to dedicate a show to his dear friend. According to Mr. Heath, Sonny Rollins has an “unmatched ability to play extended solos and to play spontaneously.” Mr. Heath recalls Mr. Rollins developing a captive audience right away, and Mr. Heath believes he and John Coltrane were the greatest tenor saxophonists of their generation.

Mr. Heath fondly recalls Mr. Rollins sending him postcards from the road, describing the countries where he was performing and the different talents he performed with. The two continue to speak on a weekly basis, and Mr. Heath felt compelled to dedicate a show to his dear friend of so many years. Due to illness, Mr. Rollins is no longer able to perform like he once did, and “he is greatly missed in the Jazz world, so we wanted to share his music and his genius,” says Mr. Heath.

During his long career, Jimmy Heath has performed on more than 100 record albums including seven with The Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader. Jimmy has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by other artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon.  Jimmy has also composed extended works – seven suites and two string quartets – and he premiered his first symphonic work, “Three Ears,” in 1988.

An N.E.A. Jazz Master and legendary tenor saxophonist, Sonny Rollins has had a seventy-year career as one of the most vital saxophonists in Jazz. He is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians in the United States. He has recorded at least sixty albums as leader, and many of his compositions have become Jazz standards.

You will not want to miss this tribute to a Jazz legend, by a Jazz legend!

Admission is $42/$32 Members/$20 Students with Table Package options for $125/$100 Members (reserved table for two with wine and snacks) and the event is open to all ages. You can access details by visiting http://www.flushingtownhall.org/ or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.

This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the new “Teen Access Program”, all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens.

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