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Saxophonist Sonny Rollins Named Downbeat Magazine Readers' Favorite Jazz Artist


Downbeat magazine's readers have spoken: Sonny Rollins, 76, is their favorite jazz artist and favorite tenor saxophonist. They also voted Sonny's "Without A Song (The 9/11 Concert)" their favorite jazz album. VOA's Doug Levine has more on the return of Sonny Rollins and the winners of Downbeat's 71st Annual Readers Poll.

Just days after the collapse of the World Trade Center, Sonny Rollins traveled from his home in New York to Boston, Massachusetts, to perform at the Berklee College of Music. That concert, filled with Sonny's usual mix of emotion and showmanship, became one of last year's most talked about jazz albums and reinvigorated a career that has spanned the better part of 60 years.

Downbeat's readers gave Sonny the edge over another jazz giant, Charles Lloyd, in all three categories: Jazz Artist, Jazz Album and Tenor Saxophonist.

Sixteen years younger than Sonny Rollins, but no less dynamic on stage and in the studio, bass player Dave Holland was the top choice among readers for Jazz Group, Big Band and Bassist of the Year. Holland came to the U.S. from his native England to play alongside Miles Davis. He appeared on three groundbreaking jazz albums with Davis before starting his own group in 1972. Holland's non-stop schedule of touring and recording has yet to catch up with him.

"There's not a day that goes by that I'm not grateful for what has come my way in music," he says.

Other fan favorites include trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Keith Jarrett, guitarist Bill Frisell and vocalists Kurt Elling and Cassandra Wilson.

Legendary jazz organist Jimmy Smith may be gone but his many fans who voted him into Downbeat's coveted Hall of Fame did not forget him. Blending jazz with soul and funk on the Hammond B-3 organ, Smith was a commanding stage presence in any setting, from trios to big bands.

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