231

Sonny Simmons: Burning Spirits

Jeff Stockton By

Sign in to view read count
Sonny Simmons: Burning Spirits The name Sonny Simmons is variously preceded by the words "underrated," "underappreciated," or even "unknown." Based on the evidence presented on Burning Spirits, a session from late 1970 – released the following year as a double LP and just been reissued by Fantasy Records – the neglect and indifference of jazz listeners has been criminal.

Simmons had released a few recordings in the ‘60s as a leader on ESP and Arhoolie (all currently back in print), but it would be nearly 22 years before he made another significant recording after Burning Spirits. The harrowing intensity of the solos, the unrelenting quest for transcendence, and the overriding spirituality of the compositions indicate a substantial amount of recovery time was in order. Simmons – and his band – left it all in the studio.

The title track is delivered in two versions, each leading off what used to be the first side of the individual LPs. Simmons’ style is original, equally convincing on alto or tenor, mixing Ornette’s vocal quality, Coltrane’s harmonics, and Albert Ayler’s unflinching conviction to something greater. Under these circumstances, when Simmons steps aside and lets his band come forward, it’s a welcome let up, and each player is inventive and interesting. Barbara Donald’s trumpet is straightforward and pure, while Michael White delivers dramatic violin swipes on "Healing Rays" and delightful melodic playing on "Things and Beings," the gentlest piece on the disc. Here, Simmons plays the English horn with the buzz of an exotic woodwind from the Nile valley, and Lonnie Liston Smith’s liquid piano substitutes for Donald’s trumpet. On "New Newk," the group takes on a more traditional quartet formation, and Richard Davis plays pliant and flexible bass. On all the other tracks, Davis (on the left channel) is paired with Cecil McBee (on the right) and the two-bass attack is consistently effusive and exciting.

For 80 minutes Burning Spirits grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let go. It’s a full dose of old school energy music that’s hard to come by these days. Except, Sonny Simmons is still out there, making records and pouring it out on stage. It’s not too late to give him his due.


Track Listing: 1. Burning Spirits No. 1 (Simmons) - 11:34 2. New Newk (Simmons) - 11:42 3. Healing Rays (Simmons) - 15:55 4. Burning Spirits No. 2 (Simmons) - 13:47 5. Things and Beings (Simmons) - 9:27 6. E=MC2 (Simmons) - 16:53

Personnel: Cecil McBee - Bass Sonny Simmons - English Horn, Alto and Tenor Sax Lonnie Liston Smith - Piano Barbara Donald - Trumpet Clifford Jarvis - Drums Michael White - Violin Richard Anthony Davis - Bass

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Contemporary | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Old Locks And Irregular Verbs" CD/LP/Track Review Old Locks And Irregular Verbs
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 18, 2016
Read "Vitamina D" CD/LP/Track Review Vitamina D
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Sunday Night At The Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Night At The Vanguard
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "HUJE 2015" CD/LP/Track Review HUJE 2015
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 2, 2016
Read "Magic Light" CD/LP/Track Review Magic Light
by James Nadal
Published: April 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!