"Jazz improvisation is supposed to be the highest form of communication," Sonny Rollins says, "and getting that to the people is our job as musicians." John Abbott/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption John Abbott/Courtesy of the artist

Rollins (far right) on stage at his 80th-birthday concert in New York City. Also pictured (left to right): Ornette Coleman, Christian McBride, Roy Haynes. John Abbott hide caption

itoggle caption John Abbott

The Saxophone Colossus (that's Sonny Rollins at left) played on The Rolling Stones' "Waiting on a Friend." Photo Illustration: Lars Gotrich/Photos: Rick Diamond/Getty Images, Miguel Palacios/Cover. hide caption

itoggle caption Photo Illustration: Lars Gotrich/Photos: Rick Diamond/Getty Images, Miguel Palacios/Cover.

Jim Hall performs at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR