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Re: Sonny Simmons

AAJ Staff By

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For too long I have read Sonny Simmons' disingenuous remarks (see interview ) about the labels that go to bat for him and offer an uncompromised canvas for his artistry. In July, he refers to his current labels as "little outhouse labels with no distribution in Europe." I am familiar with those labels (i.e. since 2002: Boxholder, BleuRegard, Arhoolie, Marge)and they are not outhouse labels. And they do have availability in Europe as well as Japan, etc. In the past, I have been on the receiving end of Mr. Simmons' lies, distortions, and hypocrisy, and I can tell you firsthand that just about the only time Sonny Simmons is credible is when he has his horn in his mouth. We all know what one does in an outhouse and the fact is, Mr. Simmons' best work today is on those smaller labels who are willing to recognize artistry over profits and ignore Mr. Simmons' record of antisocial behavior. Judging from the body of Mr. Simmons' recordings, it could be argued that he has done his smelliest business with the biggest labels (Warner Bros.). But, like most professional victims and bullies, he drops all his crap on the little guys. Thankfully, it is those "outhouse" labels that can separate the man from his music and leave the stench where it belongs.

Robert D. Rusch, CIMP Records

Sonny Simmons's claims to being a suffering artist are mainly due to his own actions. I hired him for a concert in Baltimore September 11. On that occasion, it wasn't Sonny that suffered, but rather the people who came to hear him play. His response to this artistic opportunity was to get drunk, take the stage, and harangue the audience for at least half an hour in a disgusting and abusive manner. When he finally did pick up his horn, he played indifferently. But Sonny Simmons is in good company. The only other jazz musician that I admired, had the chance to meet, and later wished I hadn't was Miles Davis.

James D. Dilts, Baltimore, MD
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