Sonny Rollins and Steve Reich Winners of Sweden's Polar Music Prize for 2007

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This year's Polar Music Prize Award winners, Sonny Rollins and Steve Reich, were announced today at a press conference in Stockholm at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Rollins and Reich will receive their prizes from the King of Sweden on May 21. The Polar Music Price was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson of the pop group ABBA.

Sweden has always been one of my favorite places to play over the years. The Swedish public has been very receptive to my music and supportive of jazz in general.

The winners of the Polar Music Prize Award for 2007 were unveiled earlier today (3:00 pm CET) in Stockholm at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Åke Holmquist, Chairman of the Board and Award Committee, read the Award Committee's citations:

The Sonny Rollins Citation--

"The 2007 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the American tenor saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins, one of the most powerful and personal voices in jazz for more than 50 years. Sonny Rollins has elevated the unaccompanied solo to the highest artistic level--all characterized by a distinctive and powerful sound, irresistible swing, and an individual musical sense of humor. He is still active and the greatest remaining master from one of jazz's seminal eras."

The Steve Reich Citation--

"The 2007 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the American composer and musician Steve Reich. The award recognizes his unique ability to use repeats, canon technique, and minimal variation of patterns to develop an entire universe of evocative music, endowed with immediate tonal beauty. Inspired by different musical traditions, Steve Reich has transferred questions of faith, society, and philosophy into a hypnotic-sounding music that has inspired musicians and composers of all genres."

"It's a real honor for me to receive the Polar Prize from the great country of Sweden," Rollins said. "Sweden has always been one of my favorite places to play over the years. The Swedish public has been very receptive to my music and supportive of jazz in general."

Rollins and Reich will receive their prizes from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall to be followed by a celebratory banquet at Grand Hôtel on Monday the 21st of May. Each winner receives a total amount of one million Swedish Crowns, equivalent to approximately USD 140,000 or EUR 108,000.

A whole weekend of activities is being planned under the name of Polar Music Prize Week, encompassing exhibitions, workshops, seminars, film screenings, and live performances at various locations in Stockholm.

On February 1, a reception and press event will be given by the Consul General of Sweden in New York to honor the 2007 Polar Music Prize recipients.

About the Polar Music Prize

The Polar Music Prize (http://www.polarmusicprize.com) was founded in 1989 by the late Stig "Stikkan" Anderson. As the publisher, lyricist, and manager of ABBA, he played a key role in that group's enormous success. Anderson donated a large sum of money to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music to establish the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation in the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and to create what was to become known as the Polar Music Prize.

Its name derives from Anderson's legendary record label, Polar Records. The Polar Music Prize is an international music prize and awarded to individuals, groups, or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. The prize breaks down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.

Today, the Polar Music Prize has become one of the most prestigious music prizes in the world. Past honorees include Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Witold Lutoslawski, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Quincy Jones, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Pierre Boulez, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Ericson, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Iannis Xenakis, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern, Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Miriam Makeba, Keith Jarrett, B.B. King, György Ligeti, Gilberto Gil, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and--in 2006--Valery Gergiev and Led Zeppelin.

January 25 was Stig Anderson's birthday, and 2007 marks the tenth anniversary of his death.

Sonny Rollins & Doxy Records

Sonny Rollins's latest CD, Sonny, Please, was released in 2006 by his new imprint Doxy and licensed last fall to Universal Classics & Jazz International. The CD, in stores this week, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category and placed on many year-end Best Of lists. It was number 3 in Jazz Times's Top 50 CDs of 2006; that magazine's readers also named Sonny Artist of the Year and top tenor saxophonist in their annual Readers' Poll (Feb. issue).

"On his first studio album in five years," writes Larry Blumenfeld in his grade "A" review of Sonny, Please in the current Entertainment Weekly, "jazz's greatest living improviser is as restlessly creative as ever, mixing standards and originals. . . [He] remains the 'Saxophone Colossus,' projecting vitality and wisdom, especially on Noel Coward's 'Someday I'll Find You.' And his tenor-sax sound--bright, deep, and beautifully brittle--hasn't been captured this clearly since his 1960s Impulse! sessions."

Rollins, whose 2007 concert schedule resumes in April, is presently looking at possible venues for a live recording, to be released on Doxy in late 2007 or early 2008. He is also planning to make available for sale on his web site (http://www.sonnyrollins.com) a performance DVD recorded in June 2006 in Vienne, France, for probable fall 2007 release.

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Terri Hinte

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