Last week, Keith Richards turned up at the Apollo Theater to honor vocalist Merry Clayton at the Jazz Foundation of America‘s A Great Night in Harlem benefit. Also appearing at the event was Steely Dan co-leader Donald Fagen, who performed in tribute to 85-year-old saxophone legend Sonny Rollins, the recipient of the JFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The above video features clips from Fagen’s performance and his thoughts on Rollins, as well as remarks from fellow performers such as Lisa Fischer and Ray Parker Jr., and the honoree himself.
Below, watch Fagen’s full rendition of “Paul’s Pal,” a Rollins original from Tenor Madness, the saxophonist’s 1956 collaboration with John Coltrane. Joining Fagen at the Apollo were jazz veterans Randy Brecker on trumpet, Jimmy Heath on tenor sax, Buster Williams on bass and Al Foster on drums. “He was one of my high-school idols,” Fagen told us of Rollins. “Jazz kind of saved my life when I was a teenager, and Sonny was probably my all-time favorite.”
“The Foundation is great,” Fagen said of the JFA. “It helps ailing musicians when they get older or they get sick. Musicians don’t have any kind of special benefits or anything like that usually, so it’s a great thing.” This year’s A Great Night in Harlem concert raised $1.5 million for jazz and blues musicians in need. The JFA continues that fund-raising effort on a daily basis.