164

Sonny Simmons: Live at the Cheshire Cat

By

Sign in to view read count
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 friend, Irvin "Foots Lovilette) and a percussionist on congas and bells known only as Max, an African-American and one of the few Olympians with whom Simmons had something in common.

Who knows how many people were in the Gnu Deli as Simmons stated the melody to "It's the Talk of the Town ? You can guess that by the end of it, after forty-three minutes (when the tape runs out) of a persistent drumbeat and Simmons' possessed soloing, not many.

Disc two is from the Cheshire Cat, roughly eight months after Olympia and finds Simmons fronting a rhythm section comprised of pianist Richard Clements, bassist Freddie Williams and drummer Larry Hancock, local heroes at the time but not much heard from since. "The Lost Village of Um'Tombey burns with a heavy Coltrane vibe, the rhythm circling around and spiraling out and Simmons rescues "Body and Soul from cliché with a personal commitment to emotional expression and honesty.

The horn-playing is always creatively intense and logically coherent, but it's the defiance that captivates the imagination. When Simmons faced the void, he responded the only way he knew how: by playing as long and as hard as he could.

It should be noted that this release is offered in a very limited quantity by the Sonny Simmons Archive Project and, having been mastered from cassette, it's a bit like listening to shortwave transmissions accidentally caught on an AM radio. But your ears will adjust. These recordings fill a crucial hole in the missing years of a jazz innovator.

Track Listing: It

Personnel: Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone; Richard Clements: piano; Freddie Williams: bass; Larry Hancock: drums; Irvin Lovilette: drums; unknown percussion.

Title: Live at the Cheshire Cat | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Hello World

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
From Far and Wide
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom And Brilliance / Chasing The Bird?

Leaving Knowledge,...

Improvised Beings
2014

buy
Jazz-Maalika

Jazz-Maalika

SaptakJazz
2014

buy
 

Beyond The Planets

Milestone Records
2013

buy
 

Near The Oasis

Milestone Records
2011

buy
 

Symphony Of The...

Milestone Records
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Time Gone Out Album Reviews
Time Gone Out
By Troy Dostert
July 24, 2019
Read First Nature Album Reviews
First Nature
By Mark Corroto
July 24, 2019
Read Leap of Faith Album Reviews
Leap of Faith
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 24, 2019
Read Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf  Album Reviews
Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf 
By Glenn Astarita
July 24, 2019
Read Czech Wishes Album Reviews
Czech Wishes
By Troy Dostert
July 23, 2019
Read More Arriving Album Reviews
More Arriving
By Gareth Thompson
July 23, 2019
Read Wschod Album Reviews
Wschod
By Don Phipps
July 23, 2019