Sonny Simmons: The Traveller (2005)
Well, Simmons is back again.
The Swedish label Jazzaway has produced three new sessions, the first of which is The Traveller. With music composed by conductor Vidar Johansen and a string quartet in tow, Simmons hasn't sounded better in his seventy-plus years!
Neither the strings nor the jazz quartet dominate this recording. Johansen integrates things nicely. The luscious three-minute introduction by piano/bass/drums plus rising strings queues Simmons to step into "Sunset, the sexiest composition on the recording. Simmons eschews the brash for the beautiful. He can charm you with just a few notes.
The strings function well, painting sweetness, but they are also well adapted here for a bit of the outward bound. Jon Klette's "Brainstorm frees the time signatures and allows for some exploration. Simmons' internal organization keeps things tied down and palatable.
Highlights here include "Armada, with its almost film score feel, and "Duet, which finds Simmons in his elementplaying off the the bass notes of Mats Eilertsen. Simmons' voice on saxophone (and English horn) is one that should not be overlooked. As long as he keeps recording, someone will probably be there continuing to remind us to listen.
Track Listing: Humphrey; Armada; Spheres; Duet; Brainstorm; Sunset.
Personnel: Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone, English horn; Anders Aarum: piano; Mats Eilertsen: bass; Ole-Thomas Kolberg: drums; Harald Aadland: violin; Eyleen Siegel: violin; Bendik Foss: viola; Kari Ravnan: cello; Vidar Johansen: flute, conductor.
Record Label: Jazzaway