Home » Jazz Musicians » Sirone


A renowned double bassist of exceptional talent Sirone, (Norris Sirone Jones) was a founder member of the Revolutionary Ensemble and remained with it throughout its six-year life. His memory is principally cherished by observers of the fine detail of jazz history, but his power, flexibility and musicality as an improviser entitle him to much more than a footnote.

Back in 1971, three adventurous young US jazz musicians formed an uncompromising improvisational group called the Revolutionary Ensemble--a title that had resonances in the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the radical transformation of jazz making that had been ignited by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane.

The work of the experimenters of that era is still evident in jazz today, in a freer and more collectively intuitive approach to playing that has become so familiar that hardly anyone blinks at it. Coleman, Taylor, Coltrane and others became legendary figures for hearing those expressive possibilities early on. Others, like the double bassist Sirone, were powerful influences in their own ways, but were overshadowed by the younger players they had inspired. The Revolutionary Ensemble was remarkable for its concentration on texture, tone color and the then unclaimed territory between jazz and contemporary classical music, which partly derived from its unusual lineup: Sirone on bass, Leroy Jenkins on violin, and Jerome Cooper on textural rather than jazz-swinging percussion. Adapting what he had learned from work in the 1960s with the free-jazz luminaries of the time, Sirone brought a Charles Mingus-like earthiness and percussive attack to the mix--and if he was nimble and imaginative enough to follow the unpremeditated thoughts of the most mercurial improvisers, he was always ready to re-anchor the music to jazz's most fundamental virtues in the blues.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and played the trombone at first, taking up the double bass at the age of 17. In his early playing years in his hometown, Sirone worked with a co-operative band simply called the Group, which also featured the saxophonist and occasional blues singer George Adams, later to make a significant jazz contribution in the bands of Mingus and Gil Evans. The rootsiness and directness of Sirone's musical conception was established in this environment, and he was a natural recruit to the burgeoning free-jazz scene in New York when he moved to the city in 1965. Joining the pianist Dave Burrell, Sirone participated in Burrell's Untraditional Jazz Improvisational Team.

During these years, Sirone worked with Burrell and Taylor, and the fiery saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri, Marion Brown and Noah Howard. He also played with the guitarist Sonny Sharrock, a performer who eschewed the tasteful single-line melodies of orthodox jazz guitarists in favor of a Hendrix-related wall of abstractly bluesy noise. In the late 1960s, such saxophone celebrities as Jackie McLean, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp joined Sirone's list of august employers, as well as the bandleading maverick Sun Ra.

Read more


Album Review

Noah Howard: Quartet To At Judson Hall, Revisited

Read "Quartet To At Judson Hall, Revisited" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Saxophonist Noah Howard is a musician deserving wider recognition. Born in New Orleans in 1943, like many black musicians he began playing music in the church. After a stint in the army, he settled on the West Coast where the avant-garde was progressing outside the purview of New York, which at the time was considered the center of all things jazz. The West Coast was also the origin of such as avant-gardists as Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and ...

Album Review

Cecil Taylor: The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert

Read "The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

If the title alone The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert doesn't blow out those flu-like post-holiday cobwebs in a big hurry, the full, near ninety minute assault on all that was and is holy damn well will. Couple the jittery anticipation of NYC's Town Hall audience pushing up against the cool onstage élan of alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, percussionist Andrew Cyrille and bassist Sirone aka Norris Jones and the air in the hall is highly, nervously charged, all of them ...

Album Review

Marion Brown: Why Not? Porto Novo! Revisited

Read "Why Not? Porto Novo! Revisited" reviewed by Chris May

Alto saxophonist Marion Brown was part of the band on John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse, 1965), though you would not guess it from Why Not (ESP, 1968). Like fellow Ascension alumnus, tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders' contemporaneous Tauhid (Impulse, 1967), Brown's album inhabited an intensely melodic section of the 1960s' New Thing. As were Sanders' own-name releases from 1967 onwards, Brown's work was deeply lyrical and embraced South Asian, Maghrebi and West African instruments and constructs. As bandleaders, the two ...

Album Review

Sirone: Live

Read "Live" reviewed by John Eyles

As Andrey Henkin pointed out last January, Sirone is under-represented on CD, particularly given his illustrious history. The 2005 release of the debut album from the Sirone Bang Ensemble has helped the situation; now comes this historic reissue.

Dating from 1981, Live is both a valuable historical snapshot and a curate's egg of an album, very good in parts. I found the opening track, “Flute Song," featuring Sirone on wood flute, to be rather too long and a ...


And Now... Sirone

Read "And Now... Sirone" reviewed by Andrey Henkin

2004 was a busy year for Sirone. The bassist for the legendary Revolutionary Ensemble saw one of that group's five recordings reissued for the first time (and become the only document of the group to make it to the CD era); a few months later, spurred by the resurgent interest in the group, the trio reformed for an exultant set at the Vision Festival. Feeling flush with momentum, the group reentered the studio and recorded their newest album since 1977's ...

Read more articles


Sirone's Last American Recording: Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone and Michael Wimberly's "Beneath Tones Floor"

Sirone's Last American Recording: Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone and Michael Wimberly's "Beneath Tones Floor"

Source: Gapplegate Music Review by Grego Edwards

Bassist Sirone's recent passing was a sad event. He has been a mainstay of avant bass playing in the free jazz field since he first came to notice in the '60s. Beneath Tones Floor (No Business CD 20) finds him in good form and in excellent company on what is believed to be his last recording in the USA. It's a fully three-way trio session with the loquacious Oluyemi Thomas on bass clarinet, soprano, musette, etc., and Michael Wimberly on ...



Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone and Michael Wimberly - Beneath Tones Floor (No Business, 2010)

Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone and Michael Wimberly - Beneath Tones Floor (No Business, 2010)

Source: Music and More by Tim Niland

Combining the beauty of art, poetry and music this beautiful package (available as compact disc or LP) makes for a fitting send off for the great bassist Sirone who passed away not long after this recording was completed. Along with Sirone's deep and resonant bass, the musicians in this collective performance include Oluyemi Thomas on bass clarinet, flute, soprano, musette and percussion (he also composed the music) and Michael Wimberly on drums and percussion. Like the meditative poem that is ...



Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberley - Beneath Tones Floor (Nobusiness, 2010) ****

Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberley - Beneath Tones Floor (Nobusiness, 2010) ****

Source: Free Jazz by Stef Gijssels

By Stef So far, I have only reviewed one CD, Nigeria, by saxophonist Oluyemi Thomas, and I praised it for its poetic power.That I have not reviewed many albums by him has more to do with his limited number of recordings than with the quality of his playing. Thomas, wo plays bass clarinet, flute, soprano, musette and percussion on this album is joined by the late Sirone on bass and Michael Wimberly on drums. As on “Nigeria," the poetic power ...



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Complete,...

Oblivion Records



Serious Music


Beneath Tones Floor

NoBusiness Records



Atavistic Records




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.