Sonny Rollins:JJA Jazz Awards Winner Emeritus

2011 Photo of the Year of Sonny Rollins by John Abbott
Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, stands monumentally atop the list of all-time JJA Jazz Awards winners. He won the "Best Instrumentalist" Award, in 1997, the first year the JJA Awards were presented. In 1998, he was voted both "Best Improviser" and "Best Tenor Sax." The following year, he received the "Lifetime Achievement in Jazz" award, which can be bestowed on  an individual only once. But Sonny wasn't done achieving, far from it:

 He went on to receive  the "Musician of the Year Award" in 2006, 2009 and  2011, and the Tenor Sax of the Year award again in 2007, 2008, 2009 and  2011.  Then in 2012, he was once again chosen as "Musician of the Year" and "Tenor Sax of the Year" and his album Road Shows, Vol. 2, was chosen as Best Record of the Year. (Road Shows Vol. 1 had been voted "Historical Recording of the Year" in 2009.)

There's little doubt that Sonny Rollins, also the winner of the National Medal of Arts and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award,  continues, at age 82,  to produce music that merits the highest Awards.  Each year, JJA voting members are faced with the dilemma of how to honor Sonny's continuing and undeniably "colossal" work while also recognizing other meritorious musicians. So for the 2013 Awards, the JJA decided to honor Sonny with a special award declaring him "Emeritus Jazz Artist: Beyond Voting.

Sonny's Rollins three 2012 Jazz Awards.
Photo by Tom Wetmore.
That isn't "Emeritus" in the sense of "retired,and no longer playing" no, not at all-- it's simply meant to recognize Sonny's unmatched, and perhaps unmatchable, achievements, which began so many years ago. (The "Jazz Colossus" nickname, by the way, was the name of an album Sonny released in 1955.) 

Sonny is, what's more, not only still recognized for his musical excellence by the professional jazz journalists who make up the JJA, he's still much beloved by his many, many fans. After the JJA sent word to Sonny that he was to be honored with the "Emeritus" Award, he sent us back the wise words that appear in the photo above.  We posted the photo on our Facebook page --and it almost immediately went viral, In just a few days it was shared more than 2,250 times. and racked up hundreds of comments, most of which were a variation on "Sonny, we love you!"

2013 JJA Jazz Awards winners in the 28 music and recording categories will be posted on this site at NOON EDT WED MAY 1.  The winners names will also be tweeted from @jjaJazzAwards using #jjaJazzAwards

The winners in Journalism and Media categories will be announced at a reception at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City on June 19.  Ticket information will be posted here soon.