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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Simmons: Staying on the Watch

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The sixties were a time of turmoil and invention. Jazz was cast into several shapes by musicians who were willing to take chances, were not afraid to go against the grain, and believed in their vision to fathom and articulate new territory. Alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons was among those who added to lore. He could fathom a cry of anguish just as easily as he could herald a shout of joy, as he created an ambience that spread its wings to encompass melody and lyricism. This balance is seen to advantage on Staying on the Watch, his first record as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Simmons: Staying on the Watch

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Alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons embraces music with his whole body, soul, mind and spirit; that much is clear from Staying on the Watch, recorded in August 1966 and reissued by ESP-Disk in 2010. Not everything that he did got its due: when Simmons came on the scene, he remained too close to Charlie Parker. When he discovered his own brooding voice with that characteristic, sharp intonation that made his alto sound almost like a shenai (Indian flute), he floated on a seemingly endless wave of music that was ancient yet modern. Simmons has always stood in the future to look ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vision Festival 2008: Day 4

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Steve Swell-Gebhard Ullmann Quartet; Bobby Few and Sonny Simmons; Henry Grimes with Sabir Mateen Quartet; Connie Crother; Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quintet

13th Annual Vision Festival Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center New York City Friday, June 13, 2008

For the second of the week's panel discussions on Friday afternoon at the Vision Festival, the topic was “Jazz Factions," with representation drawn from across the creative music spectrum, including several musicians in the audience. ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Sonny Simmons: Last Man Standing; Introducing Black Jack Pleasanton & Fourth Dimension

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Sonny Simmons Last Man Standing Jazzaway 2008 Sonny Simmons Introducing Black Jack Pleasanton Hello World 2008 Sonny Simmons Fourth Dimension Hello World 2008

Sonny Simmons will turn 75 this year and the range of musical knowledge and influence heard in his playing suggest multitudes beyond the “free" label he usually carries. Dating back to his debut on ESP in the mid '60s, Simmons ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Simmons: Last Man Standing

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This is the latest in a series of albums under saxophonist Sonny Simmons' name put out by the Norwegian Jazzaway label; a further instalment in the documentation of an abundantly creative artist, but one who only relatively recently has started to receive the kind of exposure he deserves.

The setting here is a straight-ahead one and Simmons thrives in it. In the company of a rhythm section that does everything a listener might ask of it, and a whole lot more besides, Simmons puts himself across in a program consisting of his original compositions and Tadd Dameron's “Theme For Ernie," ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sonny Simmons: Live at the Cheshire Cat

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In 1980, legendary altoist Sonny Simmons was at his lowest point. Describing himself as “shipwrecked when the gigs dried up and the money ran out, Simmons followed his wife and frequent collaborator, trumpeter Barbara Donald, from San Francisco to Olympia, Washington, with the hope that the change of scene would revitalize their tenuous marriage and put their family on firmer ground. He lasted six weeks up there and disc one of these newly released concerts captures Simmons a world away from his home turf in those weeks before he was to return, fronting a trap drummer (thought to be personal ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings; The Traveller

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Sonny Simmons The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings ESP-Disk 2005

Clifford Allen's informative and revealing interview with Sonny Simmons, included with ESP's two-disc reissue of Simmons' first efforts as a leader (Staying on the Watch and Music From the Spheres) clears up much of what happened to the master alto saxophonist between the time these sessions were cut in 1966 and his re-emergence in the '90s. Simmons' inability to conform to the demands of the marketplace, along with family pressures and a pressing need to put food on the table, drove him away from ...



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