Aidan Levy on Sonny Rollins

Friday, December 2, 2022

7:00 pm


Open to the Public

In conversation with Gary Giddins

Headshots of Aidan Levy and Gary Giddins with the book cover to "Saxophone Colossus"
Left: Aidan Levy; Right: Gary Giddens
Admission Price



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Known as the “Saxophone Colossus,” Sonny Rollins is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz improvisers of all time, winning Grammys, the Austrian Cross of Honor, Sweden’s Polar Music Prize and a National Medal of Arts. 

The story of Sonny Rollins—innovative, unpredictable, larger than life—is the story of jazz itself, and Sonny’s own narrative is as timeless and timely as the art form he represents. Part jazz oral history told in the musicians’ own words, part chronicle of one man’s quest for social justice and spiritual enlightenment, Aidan Levy's is the definitive biography of one of the most enduring and influential artists in jazz and American history.

Aidan Levy is the author of Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed and editor of Patti Smith on Patti Smith: Interviews and Encounters. A former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, JazzTimes, and The Nation. 

Gary Giddins wrote the "Weather Bird" jazz column in The Village Voice (1973-2003), co-founded the American Jazz Orchestra (1986-92), and served as Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center (2011-2016). His essays on music and film have appeared in dozens of publications and have earned him a Jazz Journalists Association Lifetime Achievement Award, a Guggenheim, Peabody, and Grammy, and six ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for Excellence in Music Criticism. His Visions of Jazz received a 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award and Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award; he won a second Gleason award and other honors for his two-volume life of Bing Crosby (2001, 2017). He wrote and co-directed three documentary films and is featured in many others, including Ken Burns’s Jazz and Tom Surgal’s Fire Music. His books include the biographies Satchmo and Celebrating Bird, the essay collections Weather Bird and Warning Shadows, and the textbook Jazz. He is now at work on a biography of George Gershwin. Giddins lives in New York with his wife Deborah Halper.