Born in 1939 in north Philadelphia, Sonny Fortune is one of the youngest of jazz’s old lions, playing in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the legends of bop’s twilight era, including an extended stint in Miles Davis’ On the Corner band. Raised on doo-wop, and at first no fan of jazz, he picked up the saxophone at 18, in circumstances he describes as “not only late but awkward.” He was inspired by backstage conversations with fellow Philly native John Coltrane. “He was quiet,” Fortune says, “and yet his music has an intellectual force that was so powerful that I used to walk out of the club thinking ‘What the hell just happened.’” He moved to New York and, on Coltrane’s advice, sought and landed a gig with [Coltrane Quartet] drummer Elvin Jones, launching a four-decade and counting career that remains exemplary. “I never know what to expect,” Fortune says. “If I were to play any other kind of music, I wouldn’t necessarily love music.” Sonny Fortune appears at the Capital Ale House as part of the Richmond Jazz Society’s Guest Educators Series, on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $25.
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