Sonny Rollins, Bob Thompson, and Chicago

last edited on Tue. August 16 2022

On April 19, 2022, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins connected with Lead Museum Educator Nicole Bond for a wide-ranging discussion about his relationship with artist Bob Thompson, how Thompson made everywhere he traveled home, and how Rollins and other jazz legends are depicted in Thompson’s 1960 work, Garden of Music.

An excerpt of the interview was broadcast during The Happening, the Smart Museum’s closing day celebration of Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine. It is posted in its entirety below.

Smart Museum of Art · Sonny Rollins, Bob Thompson, and Chicago


Conversation with Sonny Rollins and Nicole Bond for the Smart Museum of Art, April 19, 2022

00:00:00:03 - 00:01:29:09
Nicole Bond: My name is Nicole Bond, and I am one of the lead educators here at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. I have some great people with me who are helping me pull this together. Our public practice team, which includes Mr. Jason Pallas and Miss Dorian Nash, are in the background standing by. And we're just super excited to talk with you, mostly because, well, you are the great iconic Mr. Sonny Rollins, the person who is just incomparable as far as anyone ever being able to play tenor saxophone. So there's that. 

But we're also excited because we have on exhibition here at our museum, a show called “Bob Thompson - This House Is Mine”, and it is the first time in over 20 years that a retrospective of the artist Bob Thompson's work has been shown. And I understand that Mr. Thompson was someone that you knew personally and I have a painting that has your image captured on canvas in it.

And I just wanted to spend a little bit of time talking with you, talking about Bob Thompson. And I'm just happy that you're here today. So, yeah, let's let's start there. 

00:01:29:17 - 00:01:33:15
Sonny Rollins: Thank you. And I'm very, very happy to be here. Thank you.

00:01:33:24 - 00:02:37:17
Nicole Bond: Yeah, we're, we're happy to have you. And I'll say also, mid-May, when the exhibition leaves here in our museum, we are having a full day extravaganza that we're calling “The Happening”, kind of inspired by those “Happenings” of the 1960s that is reflected in a lot of Thompson's work and you have an open invitation to, to join us. If that's something that you'd be interested in, we'll move heaven and earth to get you here.

If that's something that you have an interest in. But I'll just start by saying, so delighted to have you here and I'm going to maybe stop talking and find the questions so that we can get you talking. Yeah. So one thing I wanted to ask right away is that I understand that you spent a little bit of time living right here in Chicago.

Is there anything that you can share about your time in Chicago that you remember well?

00:02:38:24 - 00:02:49:08
Sonny Rollins: Well, my time in Chicago was such a momentous time for me that I consider Chicago my second home.

00:02:50:07 - 00:02:53:04
Nicole Bond: Really? Wow. We are–

00:02:53:04 - 00:03:45:18
Sonny Rollins: And I first came to Chicago in 1949 and I was a musician. I've had a little bit of a reputation, not much but the musicians there in Chicago knew me, and so I made quite a few friends of my very different musicians in town, a lot of friends, and I played with most of them and it was a period in my life that I will never forget I was born in New York, but Chicago had something else about it, had sort of a very hometown feel about it, if I could put it that way.

00:03:46:19 - 00:03:47:13
Nicole Bond: I like that you said that–

00:03:47:13 - 00:04:07:02
Sonny Rollins: People were really great. The people that I met—the musicians and the people that were really special to me in my life. And I've never forgotten that, never forgotten them and never forgotten Chicago. 

00:04:07:09 - 00:04:24:05
Nicole Bond: That makes every Chicagoian feel proud, knowing that you have said that about the place that we call home as we feel that way. But it's really nice when we hear others, especially New Yorkers, give a shout out to Chicago. So thank you so much for that. We really appreciate that.

00:04:24:05 - 00:04:27:04
Sonny Rollins: Thank you for Chicago.

00:04:27:09 - 00:04:56:18
Nicole Bond: Yeah. Yeah. So I want to talk about Bob Thompson. We are delighted, as I said, just to have the show here in the museum. It is. It's— it's a beautiful display of his work. It was a great opportunity for me to even learn about the artist. I knew nothing about Bob Thompson. I'm ashamed to say before we started preparing to have the exhibition here at our museum.

00:04:56:18 - 00:05:22:02
Nicole Bond: And since studying him and being around his work every day, I'm just awestruck at just the wonder, the creativity, the expert skill that he has and (Sonny Rollins: Yeah…) Similar to you I think both of you all had a way of reimagining things that folks tended to call standards. You had a way of taking them and making them your own.

00:05:22:02 - 00:05:28:16
Nicole Bond: But what, what can you share with us about just your experience and your time with the artist Bob Thompson?

00:05:29:13 - 00:07:08:24
Sonny Rollins: Well, Bob Thompson was a guy that he seemed like he was— he would always be here. He seemed like when he said “this house is mine” I know what he meant because Bob Thompson was a guy that seemed like he was here, he belonged here, he would always be here. He was a great joy of life. Everything he did was so full of enjoyment.
Which you can see in his work. And it was a great pleasure to meet him, finally. And then when he was in New York to come to see me, when I was working in New York, he came to see me when I lived… I lived close to him. I lived about a block from one of his houses in New York, one of his apartments, his studio, I should say.

So I used to see a lot of his work in progress while he was painting, and Bob was a guy that you just always think of as being here. You know, when you talk about life and death, you talked about something very, very peculiar to people. You see, because Bob is a guy— there is no death for Bob.

00:07:08:24 - 00:07:28:18
Sonny Rollins: If you think about Bob, no. You just think about him the way he was, the things he did, and the work he did. And I will always think about Bob as being alive. 

Nicole Bond: That's so important— 

Sonny Rollins: All I have to do is think about Bob and smile or something.

00:07:29:00 - 00:07:48:07
Nicole Bond: Wow, that's so important. What you said, especially taking into account that Bob Thompson did leave us so soon. I understand it was like a month shy of what would have been his 29th birthday that he did pass on. But when I look at his work—

00:07:49:02 - 00:07:50:07
Sonny Rollins: Wow..

00:07:50:14 - 00:08:03:00
Nicole Bond: Yeah… And even now his work is still as relevant today as it was at the time. That, he was actually making the paintings. So I like what you said about him always being here.

00:08:04:08 - 00:08:08:06
Sonny Rollins: Right, right. Absolutely.

00:08:09:06 - 00:08:36:21
Nicole Bond: I'm wondering, is there anything along with what you've just said, maybe that you could share with us about Thompson that we wouldn't have known? And we've had, I think, the best researchers and curators and everybody digging in to find out things to make the exhibition. But you were his friend. Is there something about him that you could share that they would have never found out. But you know—

00:08:36:23 - 00:09:21:17
Sonny Rollins: Well, Bob was the type of guy that it would be difficult for me to encapsulate his life because he was everyplace, he knew everybody. Everybody knew him, might be a better way of stating it. And I don't know. But all of his friends, I know he had a lot of people that I have to know a lot of the musicians that he knew, I knew.

But also oh, haha, I think about one of his… Is it ok to say that he had a girlfriend?

00:09:21:24 - 00:09:25:22
Nicole Bond: Absolutely. You can say whatever you want. Yeah, talk to me! 

00:09:26:19 - 00:09:56:00
Sonny Rollins: Okay. Well, I knew one of his girlfriends, but I'm sure there were others. But he, uh, Bob was… he, he— just, life. It's how I would think— if I had one word to say about Bob Thompson. It would be life. He was so alive. As you could see in his paintings. But he was a guy that was just full of life.

00:09:56:20 - 00:10:37:10
Sonny Rollins: He was always into something, uh, Remarkable. And as I said, this house is mine. It's just him. You just think about him saying that “this house is mine. This life is mine.” That's the type of guy that Bob Thompson was, he was amazing. And his work, of course, everybody can now appreciate his work, but he was really a wonderful guy,I’m so happy I had a chance to meet him, and I think Bob was from Louisville, wasn’t he?

00:10:37:18 - 00:10:46:05
Nicole Bond: Yes, he was in Louisville. (Rollins:Yeah,) Born in Louisville, but lived all over the globe. Similar to yourself. But yes, he was originally born in Louisville.

00:10:47:19 - 00:10:48:04
Sonny Rollins: Louisville. Yeah.

00:10:48:14 - 00:10:50:06
Nicole Bond: Do you recall how the two of you met?

00:10:52:11 - 00:11:21:05
Sonny Rollins: Well, I think, you know, he probably knew of me through my work in music, and he came by to see me perform. I remember when, I think I was, it might have been several places, but remember him being in the Village Vanguard I was playing in the Village Vanguard, and I was a ball player, but I could have been playing in several places in New York at the time.

00:11:21:06 - 00:11:56:21
Sonny Rollins: But I think that's when I first met him. I believe it's hard for me to remember now. One of the reasons it's hard to remember is because Bob was sort of all over the place when Bob said, “This house is mine”. He meant it. He was every place. So I'm not sure if I met him first in the Village Vanguard or in some other, or, one of these music houses in New York or like that, or hanging out with him, you know, at his pad or my pad, or something like that.

00:11:56:21 - 00:12:27:10
Sonny Rollins: But he's very ubiquitous and just thinking about Bob Thompson brings back a whole wonderful time. I believe that was in the sixties. I believe, that was Bob's time around the planet - the 1960s or the fifties.

00:12:28:21 - 00:12:51:22
Nicole Bond: Yeah he, the, from what I understand the body of his work which was close to or a little over some 1000 paintings he painted in a roughly an eight year time span. Then he passed in 1966. So I'm guessing from 1958 to 1966 was the time that he was, you know, making the bulk of his work and being all…

00:12:51:22 - 00:12:52:06
Sonny Rollins: Right.

00:12:52:12 - 00:12:55:05
Nicole Bond: Is where you would have encountered each other. Yeah.

00:12:55:13 - 00:13:29:01
Sonny Rollins: Right. The fifties and sixties. Right. Well it was a great gift to me to get to know him and his work will always enrich people's lives and it was a great pleasure, you know, for me it really was a gift to me and my life to meet Bob and I'm so happy I had a chance to meet him and that he had me in one of his paintings there.

00:13:29:19 - 00:13:30:16
Nicole Bond: Yes!

00:13:30:16 - 00:13:46:07
Sonny Rollins: Which is very nice. Because, there's a lot of my buddies that he had, he had Coltrane. Yeah, he had a Don Cherry. He had Ornette Coleman. I think he had Charlie Haden.

00:13:46:19 - 00:13:49:14
Nicole Bond: Charlie Haden. Ed Blackwell.

00:13:50:10 - 00:13:52:07
Sonny Rollins: You had Blackwell, right?

00:13:53:13 - 00:14:25:20
Nicole Bond: So yeah. Everyone you name there's Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, John Coltrane. You front and center in that mauve color with the really strong stance that we know you are famous for. Then Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell there are others that aren't as easily identifiable. Some of us say that. (Rollins: Right? Right) Nina Simone, might be painted on the far right of that painting.

00:14:26:04 - 00:14:45:16
Nicole Bond: And then there's another face that's looking at us in the bottom right corner or red face with grayish hair which, I know, has to mean something for that face to be so visible on the painting. But are there any others on this painting that maybe you know of that we don't have a clue who they could possibly be?

00:14:45:18 - 00:14:52:21
Sonny Rollins: I don’t know about this particular painting, but I do know that he was a friend of Amiri Baraka. 

00:14:53:20 - 00:14:54:12
Nicole Bond: Yes.

00:14:54:24 - 00:14:58:08
Sonny Rollins: LeRoi Jones, when I knew him back in the day.

00:14:58:16 - 00:15:00:13
Nicole Bond: How were you all ever..

00:15:01:02 - 00:15:03:23
Sonny Rollins: I know you know about Amiri Baraka.

00:15:04:05 - 00:15:07:02
Nicole Bond: Yes, sir. Yes, I do. And we.

00:15:07:02 - 00:15:08:00
Sonny Rollins: Of course.

00:15:08:13 - 00:15:15:08
Nicole Bond: In the gallery where we have the painting that you just described, the one that has your image on it. We also have…

00:15:15:09 - 00:15:15:21
Sonny Rollins: Right.

00:15:16:09 - 00:15:26:15
Nicole Bond: Thompson's painting of, it was, he was LeRoi Jones at the time. The title of the painting is LeRoi Jones and his family. But yeah, that's Amiri Baraka and his wife and…

00:15:26:19 - 00:15:27:09
Sonny Rollins: Right.

00:15:27:15 - 00:15:49:17
Nicole Bond: There’s a lot going on in that painting. But we have that across the gallery from a painting of poet Allen Ginsberg and artist Red Grooms. It's kind of like he was doing a whole series of portraits of a friends of his, it seems like. And we have them kind of nestled together in one of the rooms in our exhibition. It's really nice to see.

00:15:49:24 - 00:16:26:24
Sonny Rollins: Right, right. No, it was really, it was really such a great period. I heard somebody today talking about the sixties. It was a guy, this environmentalist, a fellow Bill McKibben, and he's talking about what a specifically… well, how can I put it? It was a brilliant period that we went through in the sixties you know, the fifties and the sixties.

00:16:26:24 - 00:16:55:23
Sonny Rollins: Things were really happening. And politically and musically, and a lot of things happening that really changed the world, at least for a while (Bond: sure). Now we have to keep on changing the world, that's for sure. But there were a lot of big changes happening in the sixties. A lot of changes happening in the sixties.

00:16:56:10 - 00:17:18:11
Nicole Bond: I want to lean into that word a little bit, if I might, the happening because yes, things were happening in the obvious definition of the word, but there were also these impromptu gatherings that I understand used to happen in this sixties, fifties and sixties called Happenings. (Rollins: Right.) Tell me about the Happenings of the sixties.

00:17:19:14 - 00:17:57:23
Sonny Rollins: Well, I first, I first really became familiar with the Happenings when I was in London you know, they were happening also in New York, but when I was in London, around the sixties maybe sixty-two, three, four or five, something like that. We used to have these things where everybody would be at a party of some kind and everybody would be there and then all of a sudden it would be some kind of...

00:17:57:24 - 00:18:27:21
Sonny Rollins: This would not have anything to do with smoking pot or anything like that. This was just people hanging out at a party. And all of a sudden there would be sort of, I shouldn't say all the sudden, but it did come up, oh, extremely great all of a sudden there would be some sort of a realization in the whole room, and everybody would sort of feel something.

00:18:28:24 - 00:18:32:00
Sonny Rollins: And then they'd say, “Oh man, we had a Happening”.

00:18:32:10 - 00:18:33:00
Nicole Bond: OK.

00:18:33:15 - 00:19:16:20
Sonny Rollins: I remember experiencing that a lot, under that name, as a Happening, in, when I was in London. Now I guess it was also happening in New York, but my Happenings in New York was more involved with just playing music. But the Happening as an occasional, as an occasion, I should say, I remember more in the 1960s when I first went to London and it was really fantastic!  But there were such a thing as a Happening.

00:19:18:03 - 00:19:55:23
Sonny Rollins: And I said, it had nothing to do with drugs, had nothing to do with drugs. Just people standing around, a party atmosphere, not a wild party… (Bond: Sure, people just having a good time) more of an intellectual party. People were talking about things of a more serious nature but like lightheartedly, but then something would happen all of a sudden.

00:19:55:23 - 00:20:06:13
Sonny Rollins: It was just like some kind of spirit would engulf the room. (Bond: Wow.) And that was everybody would say, oh man, it was… we had a Happening; we had a Happening!

00:20:06:21 - 00:20:22:18
Nicole Bond: So it wasn't anything that you could plan for. You just had to be there. And if you were there, you got to experience it. And if you weren't, you just missed out, that kind of vibe? Is that what I’m hearing? (Rollins: Exactly.)Wow, that's incredible. Well, we're hoping…

00:20:22:19 - 00:20:28:14
Sonny Rollins: Yeah, yeah. No, you didn't… It just happened. Just like it said. It was a Happening.

00:20:29:14 - 00:20:30:06
Nicole Bond: Well, we're hoping to…

00:20:30:06 - 00:20:35:00
Sonny Rollins: You didn’t expect it or anything. It just happened.

00:20:35:10 - 00:20:50:09
Nicole Bond: OK, so let me ask you this then. What, what would be the difference between an actual happening and just a regular party? How would you, can you say more about how you knew that you, you had experienced a happening? 

00:20:50:12 - 00:21:40:14
Sonny Rollins: Yeah, I can't because well, for one thing, I'm not so much a party goer. I mean, I've been to parties, but a party, as I would think of it in those days would be guys maybe using some drugs. (Bond: OK.) You know, pot. I’m not talking about heavy drugs now. A party would be: people were drinking, maybe having a drink in their hand, and talking a lot of talk. A Happening, seemed to be a little bit, they, it seemed to be the same thing, people were getting together without drugs because I remember that for sure.

00:21:41:09 - 00:22:12:01
Sonny Rollins: It was, I had, I experienced Happenings and there was no drugs involved. But it was different than a party. I would consider a party like some place where I would be using drugs, you see, whereas a Happening would just be something that just came out of the air. And all of a sudden there it was. And after it happened… Hey…

00:22:12:01 - 00:22:43:23
Sonny Rollins: Yeah, man, yeah. A Happening. Yeah. We all felt it. You know, everybody seemed to be enlightened, you know? I mean, it was almost like a spiritual thing, but I mean, nobody saw it, but nobody was into spiritual things in that sense. Uh, not so much as things like I am today. I mean, my whole life is spiritual life today.

00:22:44:11 - 00:23:07:17
Sonny Rollins: But that time it wasn't thought of as being anything spiritual. It was just being there, everybody was there and all of a sudden this thing would happen. It's very mystical really when you think back on it. I thought about it at different times, and I’d say, well, what happened? I don't know what happened.

00:23:07:23 - 00:23:08:15
Nicole Bond: You just had to experience it.

00:23:08:19 - 00:23:18:03
Sonny Rollins: Don't know what brought it about. I don't know why. But all of a sudden, everybody realized, we were in a Happening.

00:23:19:17 - 00:23:52:10
Nicole Bond: So we are trying to create our version of a Happening. Just as a thank you to Bob Thompson for us being able to have the exhibition for the time that we've had. Our closing weekend of the exhibition is going to be an event that we are calling the happening. But I think we're very excited. What advice can you give to some lowly art museum staff who are trying to put together a Happening?

00:23:52:10 - 00:23:56:01
Nicole Bond: Is there something that we should or should not do to make it work?

00:23:57:08 - 00:24:07:10
Sonny Rollins: Well, I think your life has to be a life, which is a creative life. You have to think about positive things.

00:24:09:10 - 00:24:39:01
Sonny Rollins: Now, everything was positive at that time. There was no, no, no negativity got involved with something that would be considered a gathering of people that you could later discern, hey, it was a Happening. So it’s got to be a positive thing. Whatever you guys do, it's got to be positive. It's got to be good feelings there.

00:24:39:07 - 00:25:08:12
Sonny Rollins: Everybody has to have a good feeling, and then you don't have to try to do anything. You just have to let a thing… You know. You don’t have to try to, Oh yeah, let's try to, let’s try to get a happening going. No, no, just be normal, be happening. Consider yourself blessed. Bob’s Spirit is there with you. And it's all good. It's all good. So that would be…

00:25:08:12 - 00:25:35:19
Sonny Rollins: What offhand I would say to try to conjure up a Happening, but it would be something like that. It would not be a big event that you go into, oh man, they’re going to have a Happening. No, no. Just hang out, be positive. Think about Bob’s Spirit and hey, it’ll be a Happening anyway. 

00:25:35:19 - 00:25:49:10
Sonny Rollins: It’s going to be a Happening if you guys do it that way, you can call it a Happening. Or maybe you’ll get all get the feeling together, like with the Happenings I recall, back in the day.

00:25:50:23 - 00:26:12:14
Nicole Bond: We are going to try our best. Sir, I'm going to tell you one of the things that we're going to do, and it's inspired totally by you in our museum, in the exhibition we have on some of the wall text, we have a quote from you that says “A different sunset every night. That's what jazz is about.”

00:26:13:03 - 00:26:33:21
Nicole Bond: Then it has your name at the end. I don't know where that quote was taken from, but we have that as a Sonny Rollins quote. And one of the things, (Rollins: Okay.)we’re going to do is wait for the exact moment of sunset, and then we're going to release some balloons in honor of Bob Thompson at that time, thinking of your quote.

00:26:33:23 - 00:26:37:17
Sonny Rollins: Oh, it sounds very very, very, very nice.

00:26:37:24 - 00:26:40:04
Nicole Bond: Yeah. So we're excited about that.

00:26:41:23 - 00:27:17:16
Sonny Rollins: That's great. Yeah, well, just thinking about it and talking to you today has brought Bob back to life and that whole period that's alive and I think this Happening is just perfect. It's perfect. It's really (Bond: I’ll let you know.)Oh, no, you don’t have to let me know, I can tell you before it happens. It's perfect. It's perfect! 

00:27:17:16 - 00:27:19:00
Sonny Rollins: You don’t have to try. It's going to be perfect.

00:27:19:17 - 00:27:20:09
Nicole Bond: Thank you.

00:27:20:09 - 00:27:47:11
Sonny Rollins: That’s the thing, people were just hanging out. Just hanging out, talking, you know, for, like, you, you might be at a party. Nothing raucous, nothing loud. No. Everybody was just hanging out talking. And then somehow this thing would happen, and everybody knew it, and said, oh, man, yeah man we had a Happening. That’s how I remember Happenings.

00:27:49:08 - 00:27:59:17
Sonny Rollins: And I know you guys, if you think of it that way. Oh, you’ll have a Happening. 

00:28:00:00 - 00:28:10:08
Nicole Bond: I think it's going to be good now that I've talked to you and have a, just a different understanding and feeling about it, I'm even more excited. So thank you for that.

00:28:10:11 - 00:28:10:20
Sonny Rollins: Yes.

00:28:11:13 - 00:28:37:11
Nicole Bond: I don't want to take up a lot more of your time, but I wanted to, if I may, just kind of circle back to that painting, the Garden of Music, and just ask a couple of more...Just had a few more thoughts on it. And I just wanted to hear your thoughts on it. I don't know if you had a chance to peek through the exhibition catalog where the painting is.

00:28:37:17 - 00:28:43:24
Nicole Bond: It's in the exact center of the book on pages 88 and 89. And in that.

00:28:44:04 - 00:28:44:13
Sonny Rollins: Un Huh.

00:28:46:05 - 00:29:01:17
Nicole Bond: I just wonder what it feels like knowing that you are pretty much the center of that painting. When I look at the painting, the very first thing I see is that larger than life mauve colored figure that is decidedly you playing saxophone in the center of the painting.

00:29:01:18 - 00:29:18:05
Sonny Rollins: Yeah. Well, uh…ha,ha,ha…. I don’t want to be so full of myself, that I want to consider that what was happening was about me. Because there's a lot of great musicians there!

00:29:18:14 - 00:29:42:18
Nicole Bond: And they are. This is true. But you, sir, are front and center in this painting. And I'm wondering what do you think Bob was trying to say about positioning you that way? I'm wondering, maybe what song do you think Thompson had you playing while you are front and center in this painting?

00:29:43:07 - 00:29:57:12
Nicole Bond: I think artists think of all of those things, not just what color am I going to use and where am I going to put them. But I know Sonny Rollins plays amazing saxophone. What music do you think Thompson was hearing while he was painting that? Just things like that run through my mind when I look at this painting.

00:29:57:12 - 00:29:58:02
Sonny Rollins: Right, right.

00:29:59:17 - 00:30:43:01
Sonny Rollins: Yeah, I have no idea. I think, I mean, it's quite a, it’s quite an honorific. That's what he said. He placed me there for a purpose. That was great. That’s another blessing to my life. But as I said, it was all so many great people, and I'm just thinking about the musicians. I didn’t, I, I know there were other  people there that I didn't really recognize. Someone will have to show me.

00:30:43:01 - 00:31:20:12
Sonny Rollins: I haven't really been… I’ve only, I’ve kept the book here so that I could look at it in my leisure, you know. Well, I haven’t just looked through it, looked through it. It's just something here that I will treasure and that I could look through at my leisure. You know, let me look at this and wow, it would take me right back to that, period to that time and it will be like a really holy book to me.

00:31:21:03 - 00:31:54:09
Sonny Rollins: Looking at it, at his artwork. And I haven't been through and looked through everything. I have glanced through it a couple of times and it's quite, it's quite amazing to me. Oh, and knowing him, he was quite a guy. He was quite a guy. I mean, This House Is Mine - I could see him, that was his life. He lived like that. This house is mine, that means this whole world was his.

00:31:54:09 - 00:32:18:24
Sonny Rollins: This is this house of mine. I know that’s how he meant that, if he said it really. It was something about This house Is Mine. That’s how he was. He was the type of guy. He was always at home wherever he went. That's another thing about Bob. He was always at home where he was.

00:32:21:02 - 00:32:24:01
Sonny Rollins: I can see that; this house is mine. Right on.

00:32:24:14 - 00:32:32:08
Nicole Bond: And we really feel like we've gotten to know him so much better. Now, just through this conversation with you.

00:32:33:08 - 00:32:41:07
Sonny Rollins: Absolutely, I'm thinking about him now, too. You're taking me back to the sixties and fifties.

00:32:41:13 - 00:32:48:18
Nicole Bond: Well, were there times when you would be playing while he would be painting? Would you share the space in that way ever?

00:32:50:11 - 00:33:17:22
Sonny Rollins: Well, I never played while he was painting. He would come to see me at my jobs, and then I would visit him at his studio. You know, but I don't know. I mean if sure he thought about me, maybe when he made some of his paintings and he put it in his paintings, but I never played exactly what he was painting.

00:33:17:22 - 00:33:22:05
Sonny Rollins: That that would have been another experience, which I did not have.

00:33:22:17 - 00:33:24:15
Nicole Bond: That would have been a Happening for sure.

00:33:25:01 - 00:33:29:08
Sonny Rollins: Yeah. Ha, ha, ha!

00:33:30:06 - 00:33:55:14
Nicole Bond: One last thing, if I may. About this painting. I'm just this honestly, in, in the whole show, this is probably my absolute favorite work, just for so many reasons. But I'm wondering, do you have any thoughts on on his color choice? Because when I look at this painting, everybody has a bit of a different color. And some of the people can be what maybe you would consider actual flesh tones.

00:33:55:21 - 00:34:10:05
Nicole Bond: But he used for your image. He used this vibrant mauve purplish tone. And I'm wondering, any thoughts on why that choice or does purple…?

00:34:10:15 - 00:34:47:07
Sonny Rollins: You know, whatever Bob did… It's all good to me. If Bob wanted to paint me in that color, why I'm very happy about it. Because he saw me like he saw me all of his work, and if he saw me like that, then, hey, it's good it's good. It’s great! If he saw me like that, in that color, then hey, I am really happy about it. That it was Bob Thompson, you know, so it's a great idea.

00:34:47:07 - 00:35:21:13
Sonny Rollins: I didn't think of it quite to that extent. But I guess it's there. He's a painter and he painted. I guess every color meant something. So it's all great. It's all great. It's all great! It was a great blessing in my life to have known Bob Thompson. And for him to have me in these wonderful pictures also makes me feel very proud.

00:35:23:17 - 00:35:43:01
Nicole Bond: Well, it's been a great blessing for us to have you spend this time with us. We are honored and proud as well that you took time to speak with us. Um, yeah. Is there any final thought you'd like to leave us with before we let you go? 

00:35:43:11 - 00:36:12:02
Sonny Rollins: Well, my final thought would be to take, to take you and I back to Chicago. Because I didn't know Bob in Chicago, but it's Chicago. What Bob, not so much what, because I didn't know Bob in Chicago, but Chicago as what it meant to me is what I hope I convey to you guys today.

00:36:12:08 - 00:36:15:19
Nicole Bond: Oh, absolutely. You certainly did.

00:36:16:08 - 00:36:56:07
Sonny Rollins: It’s just a fantastic place. I mean… I, I, just the whole town. To tell you when I was there... We didn’t, I don't think the community went out so far beyond, let me see, 67th Marquette Road, beyond that was to me I didn't think I went beyond that, but everything else going north and all the, all the all the, the the streets, the clubs. Uh…

00:36:56:15 - 00:37:37:23
Sonny Rollins: The Crown Propeller and all… I mean this whole thing was just a magical experience. One of my great gods in music was a saxophone player named Lester Young. And I remember one time I was coming home about 4 o’clock and you hear him… and um you know, I was just walking down 63rd Street, and there was a club that you could look in from the street and look in and see the bandstand.

00:37:38:18 - 00:38:17:01
Sonny Rollins: It was about 4 o’clock, maybe 5 o’clock so I’m walking there, coming home. And I looked in this club and there standing on the stage blowing his horn was Lester Young. (Bond: Wow.) And it was, it was sort of a spiritual moment, to see him there playing with a whole gang of stuff going on, it was getting kind of late… (Bond: OK.)

00:38:18:03 - 00:38:31:01
Sonny Rollins: But he was still playing, and that you know, it really got to me, it touched me, to hear the great Lester Young.

00:38:32:09 - 00:38:34:22
Nicole Bond: Did you go in by chance and play?

00:38:35:08 - 00:38:46:10
Sonny Rollins: Oh, there would be clubs open all night, at the next morning, cats would be in there playing all night, all over Chicago.

00:38:47:04 - 00:38:52:05
Nicole Bond: I remember stories my parents would tell about a club called Club DeLisa.

00:38:53:05 - 00:38:54:23
Sonny Rollins: Club DeLisa! Sure.

00:38:55:21 - 00:38:58:06
Nicole Bond: And the Sutherland.

00:38:58:06 - 00:39:10:15
Sonny Rollins: Red Saunders. Sure, Joe Williams used to sing in Club DeLisa. Yeah, sure.

00:39:10:23 - 00:39:14:18
Nicole Bond: We had a pretty happening jazz scene at the… once upon a time in Chicago.

00:39:14:19 - 00:39:16:03
Sonny Rollins: You sure did.

00:39:16:18 - 00:39:28:18
Sonny Rollins: Sure, it did. It was something. Yeah, it was another blessing. See I got a lot of blessings in my life. That was another blessing. My time that I spent in Chicago.

00:39:29:16 - 00:39:40:18
Nicole Bond: Well, please consider this an open invitation. Any time you want to come and visit us here in Chicago again, we, we will make it happen. As we would just love to spend...

00:39:41:04 - 00:39:43:05
Sonny Rollins: Ok, I might take you up on that. Okay.

00:39:43:15 - 00:39:47:07
Nicole Bond: You can hold me to it. You have my word. 

00:39:47:07 - 00:39:47:11
Sonny Rollins: Okay.

00:39:48:02 - 00:39:54:00
Nicole Bond: Well thank you so much, Mr. Sonny Rollins. This has been an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to spend this time with you, sir.

00:39:55:09 - 00:39:59:16
Sonny Rollins: Okay, well, you guys have been great and God bless and all that kind of stuff.

00:39:59:23 - 00:40:00:18
Nicole Bond: Thank you.

00:40:00:21 - 00:40:01:11
Sonny Rollins: OK.

00:40:01:23 - 00:40:03:03
Nicole Bond: Thank you so much, sir.

00:40:03:18 - 00:40:06:01
Sonny Rollins: OK, love you — love you all.