Jim Hall recalls first meeting with Sonny Rollins

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "The Bridge" CD: Sonny Rollins: Best of the complete RCA Victor Recordings, RCA 09026-63635-2 (cut 1)

In the early 1960s, NEA Jazz Master Sonny Rollins took a well-documented three-year hiatus from performing in public. His comeback recording "The Bridge" was one of the most highly anticipated releases of the decade. Featured on "The Bridge" was guitarist Jim Hall. He recalls his first meeting with Sonny.

Jim Hall: I got a note in the mailbox and it said, Dear Jim, I'd like to talk with you about music. Signed Sonny Rollins. (laughs) So he stopped over to the apartment one time. I think it was on the 4th floor. And we sat sort of facing each other at this little round table and he put a plastic bag down on the table. And he started talking. And he's so dignified, incredible guy. And all of a sudden the bag started trembling. It got my attention. So then he'd go on, he said, I have these other two fellas, Bob Cranshaw and Walter Perkins, they've been working together with Carmen McRae and I'd like you to join... Then the bag sort of jerked around and I said, Sonny what is that. Typical of him he said, I'll tell you about that soon as we finish this. (laughs) That's the way he is. So I said, Yeah, I'd love to do it. And then he said, OK I'll show you and he opened the bag and there was a little lizard or chameleon or something from a pet shop (laughs) that he'd brought in. And he said, Look at him, isn't he great?

MUSIC: same - up and fades

NEA Jazz Master Jim Hall recalling his big break when saxophonist Sonny Rollins hired him for his band, featured here in the 1962 recording "The Bridge."

This Jazz Moment was created by the National Endowment for the Arts. I'm Delfayo Marsalis

Jim Hall recalls first meeting with Sonny Rollins