New Yorker Humor Section: Jazz Icon Didn't Actually Say He Hates Jazz

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 4 2014 6:21 PM

New Yorker Humor Section Clarifies: Jazz Icon Didn't Actually Say He Hates Jazz and Has Wasted His Life

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At the height of his career Sonny Rollins took a long hiatus from performing to practice the saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge because he felt he had more to learn. What have you done lately in the way of self-improvement?

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The New Yorker sent out an odd tweet this morning:

My monocle twitched in curiosity. Sonny Rollins? The legendary jazz saxophonist who looks like NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick? Indeed. Turns out the New Yorker's humor section, Shouts & Murmurs, published a piece affecting to be a sort of as-told-to essay in Rollins' voice in which "Rollins" says that the saxophone "sounds horrible," declares that jazz "might be the stupidest thing anyone ever came up with," and admits to not knowing the names of any other instruments besides the drums.

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It was a joke, which seems fairly obvious to me (and I thought it was funny), but per the site Mediate some people either didn't think it was funny or didn't get it at all, so the New Yorker appended a note identifying the piece as satire and sent out the tweet above. Rollins, who actually tweeted to disavow the piece, will be conducting a live interview about the whole affair on YouTube at 9 p.m. tonight ET. (Update, August 6, 4 p.m.: Rollins' response is below via Vimeo.)

Read the entire offending piece here, read a great 2005 New Yorker profile of Rollins here, and check out Rollins and fellow sax legend Ornette Coleman jamming on a track from Rollins's 2011 release Road Shows, Volume 2 here. (It's the first time the two ever played together publicly, and the album made Slate writer Fred Kaplan's list of the best jazz albums of the year.)

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.