Been digging around this morning for as much sense as I can muster in preparation for the conversation with Sonny Rollins later today. Bret Primack's videos on YouTube, linked from Rollins's website, are recommended. It's especially interesting to hear a little more about Rollins's experience of popular culture (movies, radio) in his youth in Harlem.
This conversation between David S Ware and Rollins is definitely worth reading, too.
The more I approach Rollins as musician and person the more I am reminded of the "Inside Out" ethos. This is something along the lines of music as a totality, a continuum, in particular with the so-called avant garde and mainstream forms of jazz as highly artificial and unfortunate distinctions created by a so-called "free market" economy in order to limit freedom and limit choice (as always, by creating the illusion of choice). Musicians who have themselves bought this line of bullshit hook line and sinker (on either side of the illusory divide) seem to me to be legion these days. Rollins captures something about it, having spanned nearly 60 years in performance and recording. There's a sound I hear in his playing that's pure of this self-consciousness, burning bright without worry about where the music "fits" or what "it is." The saddest thing about "post-modern" "jazz" is its referential, stylistic obsession, its endless catalogueing of various styles and approaches from the past, but in a distanced way that has not absorbed the spirit. The leading edges of this approach in its earlier days in the 80s had not only the formal and stylistic elements and mannerisms but also the heart that transcended style in the first place. It seems a fear of simply being oneself in one's music permeates the "industry." Rollins is a wise elder now who captures this very freedom, a kind of relaxed and unconcerned phosphorescent brightness and immediacy with neither backward looking conservativism nor "neoism."