Today, a great 2009 interview with the legendary Sonny Rollins From Stuart Nicolson and Jazz.com. Topics the great tenor saxophonist covers here are greats Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, his theory of improvisation, and more. From the interview, on improvising:
In fact, in a way, improvisation is making the mind blank. When I’m playing, I’m in a trance. I’m not thinking of anything. Sometimes I’ve thought about a nice pattern I wanted to play, maybe a little riff on the song. It’s very clever and I’d think about it and go, ‘Oh yeah, this song I’ll put in this clever riff, it’ll really sound clever, everybody will think I’m clever!’ But I can’t do it, because when I think about putting it in someplace, the music has gone by so fast that it doesn’t work, so I just forget it. Just absorb it and it comes out at some weird time and for some weird reason from the subconscious, so I’ll play it, but don’t try to manage it and put it in to a solo. So that’s what I have learned about music about improvisation and it’s beautiful. I think somebody told me Miles [Davis] said something like that, he learns something and he forgets it because you can’t be creative if you know too much about what you’re doing.