Saxophonist Sonny Rollins by John Abbott

Focus: Jazz

By Emmett Williams

John Abbott has called New York home for well over 30 years now. He arrived in New York to attend college at 21 and stayed on.
Abbott got his start in the field of photography doing covers for notable magazines like BusinessWeek, and NewsWeek doing business portraits of CEO’s.

He had a love for music from an early age and photographed musicians whenever he had the time eventually becoming a part of the music scene in the world of Jazz musicians. Almost two decades went by when he approached his longtime subject Sonny Rollins about doing a book featuring photos he had taken of him over eighteen years of focus. He once traveled as far as Germany with Rollins to capture his live performances, the Jazz Legend agreed and the Book “Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins” came into being.

The book was published by Abrams.
The photos of Jazz Musicians stand out as historically significant along with his vivid memories of himself and the musician’s interactions. “On the road, on buses, they mostly just treated me like one of the other musicians”, he remembers.
We agreed that both art and music open doors that might otherwise stay closed in this country. Art and music seem to be a cultural doorway, ‘’It’s a beautiful way for people to connect’’, said Abbott.

“Music has always been part of my family and my life.” He states.

Abbott has taken photos of some of the world’s best singers and musicians including Lena Horne, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.

Saxophonist Charles McPherson’s image is featured on his New York studio wall.

Pictured below are just some of the amazing performers Abbott has photographed over the years.

Rene Marie, Ravi Coltrane, Rachel Z, Lena Horne, John Abbott/Lena Horne, Wynton Marsalis,

Tony Bennett, George Benson, Elvin Jones, Diana Krall, Henry Grimes and Sonny Rollins.

Sam Abbott

Abbott’s son Sam Abbott is a talented Pianist.  His music is a fusion of classical and heavy metal influences.