"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.

Sonny Rollins on the cover of John Abbott's Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins. John Abbott hide caption

itoggle caption John Abbott

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

itoggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR