164

Sonny Simmons: Live at the Cheshire Cat

Jeff Stockton By

Sign in to view read count
Sonny Simmons: Live at the Cheshire Cat 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

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano" CD/LP/Track Review EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano
by Doug Collette
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Musings" CD/LP/Track Review Musings
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 22, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Alameda Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Alameda Gardens
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 22, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.