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Sonny Simmons: Jewels

Mark Corroto By

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Note to self (that's you): find the long out-of-print CD Ancient Ritual (Qwest, 1992) by the Sonny Simmons trio. That disc marked his first great comeback, this disc his second. Well, sort of.

Not that Sonny Simmons went anywhere. It is just that gaps in his recording career wipe him from our collective radar. He first appeared in the '60s and '70s with avant recordings on ESP and Arhoolie (recently reissued), then the silence until his return in the early 1990s. Recently he has been working in The Cosmosamatics with saxophonist Michael Marcus. His music begins with Charlie Parker, flows through Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy, and in effect sums up jazz since 1947.

The seventy-something alto saxophonist recorded this solo session in 1991, and with the release of Jewels it finally finds the light of day.

These long pieces repeat nothing, except the melodies woven in each composition. The disc opens with the homage to his friend Sonny Rollins. Piecing together Rollins quotes, Simmons spins a web not unlike his fellow Sonny. Both men love a great tune.

Other tracks draw from blues forms, bebop, island music, and gospel. The final track, "Reverend Church," sums up Simmons' playing. He weaves a very roots driven blues connotation through some soulful funk. His outwardness is tamed here by his desire for coherence. All this makes for a very accessible recording.


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

Personnel: Sonny Simmons - Alto Saxophone.

Title: Jewels | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Boxholder Records

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