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Sonny Simmons: Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom and Brilliance / Chasing the Bird?

Read "Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom and Brilliance / Chasing the Bird?" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

American alto sax and English horn (Cor Anglais) player Sonny Simmons needs no introduction. Now 81 years old, Simmons was a key player in America's free jazz eruption in the 1960s. He released his first solo albums on ESP- Disk, the exponent label of free jazz and recorded or played with legendary musicians like Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Charles Mingus and Don Cherry. Since the seventies his musical career went through some turbulent phases. Fortunately, in ...

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The Cosmosamatics: Jazz-Maalika

Read "Jazz-Maalika" reviewed by Ian Patterson

The Cosmosamatics--an ever-evolving ensemble co-led by multi-reedists Sonny Simmons and Michael Marcus--was founded in 2000, though the seeds were arguably planted many years earlier. Half a century ago, Simmons was cutting his teeth with multi-reedists Prince Lasha, Eric Dolphy and others of the so-called free jazz movement. Marcus made his name in the avant/free circles of a later generation, so there was a natural symmetry to their eventual meeting in the early 1980s and subsequent collaborations. The Cosmosamatics has always ...

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Sonny Simmons: Staying on the Watch

Read "Staying on the Watch" reviewed by Jerry D'Souza

The sixties were a time of turmoil and invention. Jazz was cast into several shapes by musicians who were willing to take chances, were not afraid to go against the grain, and believed in their vision to fathom and articulate new territory. Alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons was among those who added to lore. He could fathom a cry of anguish just as easily as he could herald a shout of joy, as he created an ambience that spread its wings ...

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Sonny Simmons: Staying on the Watch

Read "Staying on the Watch" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

Alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons embraces music with his whole body, soul, mind and spirit; that much is clear from Staying on the Watch, recorded in August 1966 and reissued by ESP-Disk in 2010. Not everything that he did got its due: when Simmons came on the scene, he remained too close to Charlie Parker. When he discovered his own brooding voice with that characteristic, sharp intonation that made his alto sound almost like a shenai (Indian flute), he floated on ...

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Sonny Simmons: Last Man Standing; Introducing Black Jack Pleasanton & Fourth Dimension

Read "Sonny Simmons: Last Man Standing; Introducing Black Jack Pleasanton & Fourth Dimension" reviewed by Jeff Stockton

Sonny Simmons Last Man Standing Jazzaway 2008 Sonny Simmons Introducing Black Jack Pleasanton Hello World 2008 Sonny Simmons Fourth Dimension Hello World 2008

Sonny Simmons will turn 75 this year and the range of musical knowledge and influence heard in his playing suggest ...

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Sonny Simmons: Last Man Standing

Read "Last Man Standing" reviewed by Nic Jones

This is the latest in a series of albums under saxophonist Sonny Simmons' name put out by the Norwegian Jazzaway label; a further instalment in the documentation of an abundantly creative artist, but one who only relatively recently has started to receive the kind of exposure he deserves.

The setting here is a straight-ahead one and Simmons thrives in it. In the company of a rhythm section that does everything a listener might ask of it, and a whole lot ...

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Sonny Simmons: Live at the Cheshire Cat

Read "Live at the Cheshire Cat" reviewed by Jeff Stockton

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 ...

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The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings; The Traveller

Read "The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings; The Traveller" reviewed by Jeff Stockton

Sonny Simmons The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings ESP-Disk 2005

Clifford Allen's informative and revealing interview with Sonny Simmons, included with ESP's two-disc reissue of Simmons' first efforts as a leader (Staying on the Watch and Music From the Spheres) clears up much of what happened to the master alto saxophonist between the time these sessions were cut in 1966 and his re-emergence in the '90s. Simmons' inability to conform to the demands of ...

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Sonny Simmons: The Traveller

Read "The Traveller" reviewed by Rex  Butters

Even at 72, the great Sonny Simmons still comes up with the unexpected. On The Traveller, the veteran musician nestles into beautiful compositions and arrangements by Vidar Johansen with a group augmented by an elite string quartet from the Oslo Philharmonic. Johansen surrounds Simmons in strong, open charts that create taut frameworks for improvisational weaving. The melodically driven program spotlights Simmons' gift for spontaneous lyricism.

The string quartet introduces itself on “Humphrey with stark figures melting in the fire of ...

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Sonny Simmons: The Traveller

Read "The Traveller" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Every time a new Sonny Simmons record is released, reviewers encourage listeners to wake up to this shadowy figure. Simmons has always been a guy hovering behind the glory. In the '60s he seemed a footnote to Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy, and listeners bought Ayler on ESP before Simmons. His rediscovery in the late '80s was again a back page story to Ornette Coleman's return.

Well, Simmons is back again.

The Swedish label Jazzaway has ...

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Sonny Simmons: Jewels

Read "Jewels" reviewed by Robert R. Calder

Sonny Simmons arrived as a performer over forty years ago. He's not the last man to tell you he hasn't had his due, following bad times on the old “young man with a horn" stereotype. As with Mark Twain, “reports of his death were... exaggerated," but they did Simmons harm. The good news of his being back was preceded by grim times away.

Simmons' past partner, flautist Prince Lasha, should be listed as co-composer of “Music Matador," a ...

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Sonny Simmons: Jewels

Read "Jewels" reviewed by Javier AQ Ortiz

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 ...