sonny rollins

GALLERY: Click the image to view a gallery of photos from Rollins’s career.

The Kennedy Center announced Wednesday that Sonny Rollins, the jazz saxophone colossus, was selected as a Kennedy Center Honoree for 2011.

“Sonny Rollins’ masterful improvisation and powerful presence have infused the truly American art form of jazz with passion and energy,” David M. Rubenstein, the center’s chairman, said in a statement.

A constant innovator, Rollins once said, “I’m sort of a primitive. I never play the same thing the same way twice. This is the essence of jazz. Improvisation is the top level of jazz expression.”

Here is a sample of Rollins in rehearsals and on stage playing “Strode Rode.”