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From entries in The Notebooks of Sonny Rollins, which will be published in April by New York Review Books.

Another good day to think and be thankful for.

There is today in existence a fraternity of people. People who were all irrepressibly drawn to the “horn of horns,” “the instrument of instruments,” the saxophone. Within its proportions we saw a better and more beautiful world.

A picture of saxophones in a window, underneath the picture, the following words: “In deciding upon the saxophone we have chosen the instrument which will serve us nobly throughout our lives forever and ever.” Dedicated to those who are kind to a fool.

The saxophone is our friend. He wants to make us happy. He wants to serve us. I’m glad that he’s our friend (or that he likes me) because from the first moment that I saw the saxophone I fell in love with it, and wanted so badly to have one and play one. The saxophone has taught me much since that first time I laid eyes on it and it has served me well. Many times I made myself unhappy and the saxophone made me happy again. Many times I made my body sick and the saxophone made me all better again. Many, many times and forever and ever it will be so (it has promised to do so).

Don’t go beyond where you get a bang out of playing. Each day is different. Always derive the natural fun and pleasure which is part of every saxophonist’s birthright.

More music please.

I am a singular artist.

I do a singular thing.

Experiences while open-air practicing have been many and numerous. One case comes to mind. It seemed that I suddenly found myself really “vibrating” musically, sounds and tones and rhythms, and I was falling right into ideas and perfectly executed sequences and into divine modulations. And I would then get responses from the birds who are really quite good musicians and willing and anxious to join your orchestra as well!!!

I want to write much more now. I want everyone to know just what I go through.

Ask Charles: Is it about eating and putting a roof over your head? Is that what life amounts to?

I’m old, I’m tired. My friends are trying to tell me to give up. I feel like giving up.

All of the business part is devoid of moral underpinning. It enables me to function but lessens my moral fiber—my commitment, purpose—in other words, the only commitment I have now is to getting food for my next meal. Of course when I perform I endeavor to do what I seem to have to do and try to get into a trancelike state as seems to be what allows me to do this thing for which I am being paid and for which the bread for tomorrow’s meal comes.

I have at times wanted and wished for time to stand still at a particular moment. If it would all stay this way this would be heaven. But of course (reality) the other side of the whole soon reappears. Things are never constant. Disaster is coming. Disasters are coming.

One day in the future people will be saying, “Yes I once saw Sonny Rollins.”

Forgive everyone everything.

What other people think of you is none of your business.

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.

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February 2024

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