Sonny Simmons: Jewels


Sign in to view read count
Sonny Simmons: Jewels Inspired by the works of Charlie Parker, Vincent Van Gogh, Sigurd Rasher, and Eric Dolphy, saxophonist Sonny Simmons recorded Jewels at a California home in 1991.

Simmons' best-known composition, "Music Matador,"? initiates the recording. It was originally featured on an Eric Dolphy recording, and in a recent AAJ interview Simmons affirms that it is his, rather than a co-composition with Prince Lasha, as commonly credited. Other musicians, including Jane Bunnett and Paul Bley, have recorded it since Dolphy did, accompanied at the time, among others, by Lasha and Simmons himself. Denuded of any technical enhancements or musical support, Simmons engages its bouncy melodic lines with aplomb, dexterity, patience, nimbleness, and shiraz-like dryness in his tone...not quite sweet, yet full-bodied and sonically aromatic, while intimating aging fruity delight. He, however, doesn't stray far from its melodic core in his decidedly intelligent and vibrant developmental approach...which subsumes what he does throughout the rest of the recording itself as none of the compositions stray from this methodological pattern. The melodies can be engrossing, memorable, or even catchy, and there are many pits to be mined for further capitalization, exploration, and development.

Most styles of jazz...as well as blues...are present, in varying degrees, and all compositions have their own particular highlights according to their respective characters, well represented by their titles. "Caribbean Nights,"? for example, has a type of sensuality that would lend itself quite well for a video clip featuring the famed Ursula Andress' emergence from the sea in the James Bond film Dr. No. There's a distinctively playful, breezy, and aged romantic nostalgia throughout this interpretation.

If one, however, were to expect a foray into libertine expressiveness in Jewels, with foggy and elusive hints at the compositions' fundamental natures, one would be both wrong and perhaps even miss how he builds his improvisations upon the clear melodic structures of the compositions. In other words, this is jazz unchained...from its so-called free stereotypical cacophonic and intrusive omni-directional thinking...by logical sonic patterns and expressions derived from the work's melodic core. It requires discipline to listen to an altoist improvising alone for more than an hour, nonetheless. The quality of the recording and the performance, however, are fine.

Track Listing: Music Matador; Cosmic Funk; Caribbean Nights; Other Worlds; Reverend Church

Personnel: Sonny Simmons (alto saxophone)

Title: Jewels | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Boxholder Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Departure CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read With You In Mind CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Doug Collette
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Small World" CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Tracé Provisoire" CD/LP/Track Review Tracé Provisoire
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "TajMo" CD/LP/Track Review TajMo
by James Nadal
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Walk Against Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Walk Against Wind
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.