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Solo Alto Sax: Sonny Simmons, Steve Coleman & Laura Toxvaerd

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Sonny Simmons
Ecstatic Nostalgia
Record Label #1
Year


Steve Coleman
Invisible Paths: First Scattering
Tzadik
2007


Laura Toxvaerd
no. 1
Ilk Music
2007




Solo saxophone music may—at poetic peak—achieve poignant expressions meshing logic, pain, melody and wit in skeins of purling beauty. Some coming to mind have emanated from Steve Lacy, Dave Liebman, Ned Rothenberg, Jane Ira Bloom. Here three altoists hold forth and some sustain a rare beauty.

Sonny Simmons, septuagenarian elder, takes his sweet time on Ecstatic Nostalgia and speaks with confident confidentiality, ever mature, mellow, intimate. Cut of a piece these excursions distill reflections on a long career, checkered with a 20-year hiatus. Lengthy fantasia "Exotic Study haunts phrases of Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation , Stravinsky's famed bassoon lick from Rite of Spring, Gil 'n' Miles. Simmons touches many peers: Charlie Parker's incessant melodicism, Eric Dolphy's soaring top-to-toe arpeggios, Sonny Stitt's searing altissimo, Frank Morgan's melancholic whimsy, Cannonball Adderley's ripe plums. Marvelously bizarre on bright, firm English horn, "My Favorite Things trucks less with 'Trane than Turkish zurna; the brief alto version reminisces wistfully—a ghost of Christmas past? Meditations on Monk slide from dusty-musty to clarion and airborne. A blues goes slow and sumptuous.

Steve Coleman, theorist and pure player, floats arpeggiated lines bent, Alexander Calder-like, to exacting geometrical shapes throughout Invisible Paths. "The Witness snakes alluringly. "Facing West reimagines post-bop in bright, bannering ragtags. "Clouds ascend breathily to a wispy beyond — horsetails into cirrostratus. Each essay solves its self-posed puzzle—sublime saxophonic sudoku. Coleman's arcs and patterns do fascinate: poised, placid, did we say pure?

Laura Toxvaerd, a young Dane, delivers a studio suite of blown/electronic miniatures and plays live pieces strung together for her debut no. 1. Studio tracks blare, oddly riveting and mechanistic, like Devo (eg, "Tin Soldier ) while her live bits (all under three minutes) warm before eyes, molasses chips melting to taffy. Toxvaerd's musical forbears range from unoiled industrial machinery to avian farmyard protestations. Quick-cut soundalikes run amok from acoustic (toxic Ayler shrieks, rampantly detuned Ornette Free Jazz, bassoonish buffoonery, Hemphill chorales, David Ware grit and Willem Breuker tonic shenanigans [half to full speed]) to some electronica (Mother Mallard, Supersax crushed in a 24-ounce tomato can [basil added]) and possibly beyond.


Tracks and Personnel

Ecstatic Nostalgia

Tracks: Introduction: Ode To Thelonious Monk; My Favorite Things; The Promise; Exotic Study; My Favorite Things; Blues For Everyday Life; Out Of Love.

Personnel: Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone

Invisible Paths: First Scattering

Tracks: Ascending Numeration: Reformed; Shift; Possession of Images; Negative Secondary; The Witness; Invisible Paths; Fundamental Disturbance I; Fecundation: 070118; Embodiment; Facing West; Clouds; Back at the Crib; Cardinal-Fixed-Mutable; Fundamental Disturbance II; Individualization; Fecundation: 070118 (Another View).

Personnel: Steve Coleman: alto saxophone.

no. 1

Tracks: Part I; Part II

Personnel: Laura Toxvaerd: alto saxophone.

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