October 30, 2018

SONNY CAME HOME:

Sonny Fortune Dies at 79 (Michael J. West, 10/30/18, Jazz Times)

Fortune, who most prominently played alto saxophone (though he frequently played soprano and also worked on tenor and baritone), was one of the key altoists to emerge in the troubled American jazz scene of the 1970s. He was part of a post-Coltrane wave of jazz saxophonists (and in fact came to New York from his native Philadelphia contemporaneously with John Coltrane's death), but steadfastly developed his own sound while exploring the new language Trane had established on the instrument. He was also an intrepid explorer of the possibilities of fusion, particularly its extensions of Latin rhythms and textures.

In addition to Jones and Davis, Fortune worked with conguero Mongo Santamaria, pianist McCoy Tyner, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers before establishing his own solo career in 1974, continuing until a few months before his death.

Cornelius Fortune was born May 19, 1939 in Philadelphia. A doo-wop singer in his youth, he turned later to saxophone, deciding at 18 to embark on a career in jazz. After studying at Philadelphia's Granoff School of Music, Fortune remained in the city for nearly a decade, working in rhythm & blues and jazz bands, especially in the soul-jazz idiom. His first recording, 1965's Trip on the Strip, found him co-leading a session with Philadelphia organist Stan Hunter.

Encouraged by Coltrane, Fortune finally moved to New York in 1967, joining the band led by Coltrane's sometime drummer Jones. The first stint with Jones was brief, and after another quick spell with saxophonist Frank Foster, Fortune joined Santamaria's band in 1968, remaining with the percussionist until a short-lived move to Los Angeles in 1970. Returning to New York, he joined Tyner's band--another Coltrane alumnus--where he would stay until 1974.

Posted by at October 30, 2018 4:51 PM

  

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