A group of jazz fans waging a campaign to name the Williamsburg Bridge after jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins now have allies in City Council Member Stephen Levin, who introduced a piece of legislation in the council to rename the bridge, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who's reportedly lobbying state legislators to support the renaming.
Rollins, one of America's greatest living jazz saxophonists, spent two years, from 1959 to 1961, blowing his horn on the Williamsburg Bridge during what he called a "sabbatical" from Harlem, where he first found fame as a jazz musician. As the people behind the Sonny Rollins Bridge Project explain, Rollins dropped out of the jazz scene at the height of his career, moved to an apartment on Grand Street and Clinton Street on the Lower East Side and spent up to 16 hours per day playing saxophone on the pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Rollins himself wrote about his relationship to the Williamsburg Bridge in the New York Times Magazine a couple of years ago, explaining that he found the bridge to be such a great place to practice because "playing against the sky really does improve your volume, and your wind capacity."
"I support the greater effort to recognize the cultural contributions of Sonny Rollins, one of America’s most important musical ambassadors," Adams wrote to Gothamist in a statement. "I look forward to being part of the conversations going forward as to the form and fashion that this much-deserved recognition can take."
As The Lo-Down points out, even with the support from Levin and Adams, Albany has the final say on renaming the bridge. Given that the state named one of our bridges after that carpetbagger Robert Kennedy though, it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility to give one of the city's jazz titans a tribute in steel.