Yesterday (or maybe the day before, all days running into each other recently) I heard an awesome interview on q (CBC radio arts program) by Tom Power with Sonny Rollins. First, I love jazz and love listening to jazz musicians talk about their music. Second, Sonny Rollins was brilliant. He is 87 now and cannot play his saxophone any more because of his health. But he is still a vibrant living spirit of the music he created.
His confidence was a major impression that came across clearly. He knew from age eight he would be a successful musician. He placed himself where it was happening and he practiced his craft religiously. Both major aspects of being successful. He emphasized that the important part of creating an art is knowing there is always more. There is always something to keep reaching, something more to achieve.
He said every successful artist has a “fingerprint”, a uniqueness that raises him or her above the crowd. When playing music, he went deep inside himself. He said when he is in front of a great painting or listens to great music, any great art form, he feels a connection to a deeper part of himself and that creates a connection to a universal truth. (Well, maybe he didn’t use the word truth, but I think he did and that is a favorite thought of mine.)
He said he feels like a “blessed person”, is deeply grateful for what he has had with his music. Making good music is for him living ethically.
I remember conversations in art school about whether or not an artist is a moral person. Great art has that responsibility of uncovering a deeper truth, connecting us to something we might not otherwise know. But obviously, history has shown us, a great artist is not necessarily a moral person. But it would be nice to think so!
The photo above was taken in Montmartre, Paris, a couple of years ago. Another comment on the power of loving what you do. You know that saying: If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life!