Excerpt of an interview with the legendary Sonny Rollins from Mixing It Up: Taking On the Media Bullies and Other Reflections by Ishmael Reed. via Counterpunch

Reed: People are so happy to play that they lower the standards?

Rollins: It’s not just in the past, either. I’m going through this shit all the time. They just called me to do a commercial for this car, Infiniti. They wanted us to go to Czechoslovakia to shoot it. There were no speaking parts. It would be this actor and myself sitting down in a jazz club at a table, and there’ll be some Czech jazz musicians up there playing and then a voice-over about Infiniti. Something like that. So naturally I didn’t do it. I mean, for me to just be validating white jazz music. I’m not going to put myself in that position. I’m glad they still think I’m viable, but I’m not gonna do that shit, man.

Reed: Let me ask you about gangsta rap.

Rollins: I like the content of rap because it’s the black experience; what they’re saying is the truth. Not everything—I’m talking about the political stuff, of course. We have to accept that ‘cause that’s what’s happening.

Reed: What about the style, all this mixing and sampling and stuff they do?

Rollins: Well, they sampled some of my stuff. This group Digable Planets did some of my stuff. I heard it in a store. I heard somebody playing some of my stuff.

Reed: How do you feel about that?

Rollins: It’s okay, it’s alright. I just don’t want to be ripped off. I need my money. So I like the political thing and I like some of the rhythms them cats are playing. I can use it. I’m not an old fogy. I think jazz has done so much to bring people together, but jazz is only an art form. You can’t change a society with jazz. The society is still backward on racial matters. I like to be democratic; I have a white boy playing in my band right at the moment. But it’s not a personal thing. I find people personally who are great, but the oppressive society just makes it impossible to be real with people. It always fucks everything up.