Past Event

Sonny Fortune, Saxophonist

Philadelphia born (1939) alto saxophonist master Sonny Fortune moved to New York City in 1967 and recorded and appeared live with drummer Elvin Jones’ group. “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."
In 1968 he was a member of Mongo Santamaria's band, and thereafter performed with singer Leon Thomas, and with pianist McCoy Tyner (1971–73). In 1974 he replaced Dave Liebman in Miles Davis’s ensemble, remaining until spring 1975. Fortune was the first alto player to record with Miles since Cannonball Adderley on Kind of Blue in 1959, and can be heard on the albums Big Fun, Get Up With It, Agharta, and Pangea.

He joined Adderley's brother Nat after his brief tenure with Davis, and then went on to form his own group in June 1975, recording two albums for the A&M Horizon label. During the 1990s, he recorded several acclaimed albums for the Blue Note label. He has also performed with Roy Brooks, Buddy Rich, George Benson, Roy Ayers, Oliver Nelson, Gary Bartz, Rashied Ali, and Pharoah Sanders.

Fortune's groups feature his own compositions, performed while touring around the world, including the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. CBS TV's 48 Hours with Dan Rather did a feature on Sonny, broadcast in 1993. He is a featured soloist on the soundtrack for the Jack Nicholson film, The Crossing Guard, and was the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning feature by Dr. Billy Taylor. He headlined the first Chicago Playboy Jazz Festival and was the featured jazz performer at the 1995 Atlanta Montreaux International Music Festival. He has been touring the U.S. consistently over the past few years.