Good Fortune!

“Sonny Fortune is one of the most intriguing alto players in contemporary jazz.”
Stereophile magazine

You and the Night,

You and your alto sax and your music in the night at Jazz 966!
Back in the 1970’s, when we were bright young things spending our nights in jazz clubs clouded with cigarette smoke, nursing cheap drinks through the sets, I remember many memorable performances by the Sonny Fortune Quartet at the Village Vanguard and at Sweet Basil, on Seventh Avenue with Ernie, Buyu, Yolene and Alex.
Thirty years later, Cornelius “Sonny” Fortune (who turned 69 this May) is at his fiery best, blowing that saxophone with the same intensity and sincerity, and his bursting ripe tone and bold phrasing still enflames listeners, bringing them out of their chairs in exhilaration to dance in tune with the music.

Last night at Jazz 966, the atmosphere was joyful, with hard-core jazz lovers in attendance, revelling in the moment. Many are Sonny’s age and have supported his music since he started performing. Sonny knows it: when one audience member tells him she can’t come see him play in the city, he responds: And that’s why I come to you! There is easy banter and mutual love here, and the joie-de-vivre is contagious!

He starts the evening with mellow tunes. The appreciation of the audience is evident every moment of the performance: aficionados murmur knowingly; they call out a couple of “Hey, Sonny!” and the applause is generous. Once he plays Moonlight Serenade, couples form on the dance floor and by the time he segues into Take the A train, I have been whisked away myself by a rather dapper gentleman, and it’s an amazing experience to be dancing two steps away from Sonny Fortune as he blows his alto sax. To close the set, he plays Caravan, a song I am particularly fond of. It is a powerful performance, gushing with energy and passion: the music building in intensity and urgency, in volume and rhythmic drive; moment to moment, more riveting, ending the evening on a perfect high note!

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“Fortune ought to be a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.” – Nat Hentoff – Jazztimes
Sonny Fortune, (born in Philadelphia in 1939) ”Sonnywas 18 when he decided to pursue a career in jazz. The quiet, straight-talking musician explained his 1967 move to New York: “Eventually, in order to find out if you really have what it takes, you have to go to the center, and that’s New York…you can only do so much in your hometown.”
Touring around the world and leading his own quartet formed in 1975 , Sonny, accomplished on several instruments (clarinet, flute, alto, tenor and baritone sax included), has also played and recorded extensively with such greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santa Maria, Oliver Nelson, George Benson and Nat Adderly. He’s also played with two musicians of the classic John Coltrane Quartet: Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. Although he only played with John Coltrane once, Trane exerted a profound infuence. This connection was explicit not only on his 2000 recording In the Spirit of John Coltrane, but in almost every note he’s played since that encounter. On Continuum, Fortune’s first album for his new Sound Reason imprint, his music continues to evoke the passion, commitment, and integrity of his mentor.


Critics speak of Sonny Fortune in the same breath as Coltrane, Cannonball, Young, Bechet, Hawkins and Parker. He deserves that honor, as he embodies all of the finest qualities of those late, great musicians: hard work, dedication to his art, and exceptional music.

It takes a lot of grit and spirit to survive in this business, and you can feel that in the music:
“What we’re doing as artists probably goes hand in hand (with what we do) as people as well. We find a way to survive. You don’t allow the reality of denial or resistance or frustration. . . to dominate your thinking, your way of life . . . I’m still an individual that still has a lot of fight in him.”
We bless our good fortune that Sonny is still here,
still breathing fire, blowing as soulfully and as hard as ever…
Thank you Mr. Fortune!

To experience this first hand, go listen to The Sonny Fortune Quartet at Sweet Rhythms (Bleecker and S.7th St. in the Village) Friday 19th and Saturday 20th of September.

Sonny Fortune and his Quartet: with Michael Carpenter on piano, Paul West on the contrabass, and Steve Johns on drums.


“One of jazz’s most impressive saxophone virtuosi… Quite phenomenal… A big, hard, alternately gritty or keening sound…There is a wild, primitive quality to his sound…” has said Thomas Allbright of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Turns out there’s live jazz in our ‘hood regularly!

Jazz 966 remains one of the few places left in Brooklyn where quality jazz can still be heard without emptying your wallet. For the last 18 years, the chairman of the club, Sam Pinn has been true to his mission: “We try to be a place that keeps the music alive.” If music quality is more important to you than fancy surroundings and drinks, I am hoping you also will become Friday regulars at 966. The club offers live jazz music every Friday night for a minimal cover charge.

966 Fulton Street, Ft. Greene (718) 638-6910

Jazz lovers Edwidge and Kettly Menard are regulars of Jazz 966

Sonny Fortune with Marie Mai share a moment

The first couple who got up to dance.
I don’t know it yet, but in a minute, I am going to be whisked away to the dance floor. Rather amazing!

Pianist Michael Carpenter

Steve Johns on drums and percussions

Paul West on contrabass
When Fortune smiles on you…

For more information, check out Sonny Fortunes’s site at :
and have a listen to these fantastic tunes!
“Continuum” marks both a personal and artistic milestone for veteran saxophonist-flutist Sonny Fortune. Besides being the first recording made for his own label, the album underscores Fortune’s gifts as a player, composer and arranger in revealing settings. In some respects, “Continuum” is a summation for Fortune, an homage to artists who’ve influenced him over the years. Not surprisingly, John Coltrane’s legacy looms large. “Trane and Things,” which alludes to Coltrane’s improbable transformation of “My Favorite Things” into a jazz staple, is a swirling delight, nimbly played on soprano sax and percussively accented by pianist George Cables.” The Washington Post (2004)

Music critics:
Bill Meredith
Bob Weinberg
Nat Hentoff
Howard Mandel



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