What would it have been like to have stumbled upon the legendary jazz musician Sonny Rollins playing in the 1960s on the Williamsburg bridge? Harvey Loves Harvey attempted to recreate the experience playing the Sonny Rollins album The Bridge in the center of the Williamsburg bridge, between September 13th and 20th as part of The Work Office, a WPA inspired art project disguised as an employment agency. Playing the studio album that resulted from his rehearsals took place at various times throughout the week in the style of what we believed to be his rehearsal schedule. Harvey Loves Harvey was personally hoping some insight could be gained as well in listening to the album played alongside the ambient bridge sounds: cars driving underneath, rattling subway cars, and pedestrians walking by were most likely an important part of creating the work for Sonny in it’s early stages. It also functioned as a ghostly reminder of forgotten New York histories like the Sonny’s story and highlights the importance of a lowly public space like the walkway on the Williamsburg bridge that can be an important public place of creation.
Sonny on the Williamsburg Bridge:
“In the 50s and 60s, Lucille and I had a small apartment on Grand Street on the Lower East Side of New York. I started practicing in the house because I had to practice, but I felt guilty because I’m a sensitive person and I know that people need quiet in their apartments. I was walking on Delancey Street one day, not far from where I lived on Grand Street and I just happened to look up and see these steps that I decided to check out. And there, of course, was the bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge. It was this nice big expanse going over the East River. There was nobody up there. So I started walking across the bridge and said, “Wow. This is what I have been looking for. This is a private place. I can blow my horn as loud as I want.” Because the boats are coming under, and the subway is coming across, and cars, and I knew it was perfect, just serendipity. Then, I began getting my horn and going up there regularly. I would be up there 15 or 16 hours at a time spring, summer, fall and winter.”