All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings; The Traveller


Sign in to view read count
Sonny Simmons
The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings

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 the marketplace, along with family pressures and a pressing need to put food on the table, drove him away from jazz music, stunting what otherwise might have been a glorious career.

Always a volatile personality, Simmons' cut his music in the late '60s with a finely honed edge. On "Distant Voice he pushes his alto into English horn territory (which Simmons would later regularly employ). Then-wife Barbara Donald on trumpet is key to the band's forceful sound, and disc one marks the debut of pianist John Hicks, who brings "City of David to a rousing finish. Disc two is slightly less focused than the first, but the addition of Bert Wilson's tenor adds richness to "Resolutions, and "Zarak's Symphony is built around a charming melody, which, once stated, Simmons rubs away with a furious solo.

Sonny Simmons
The Traveller

Forty years after he cut his first sessions, 25 years after he virtually disappeared from the scene and fifteen years after he made his triumphant comeback with Ancient Ritual, Simmons is a true jazz survivor, one of the "last buffalo[es], as he says. One thing Simmons never lost was his orneriness, and most of his recent music has him sparring with Michael Marcus' second horn in the Cosmosamatics. On The Traveller, however Simmons is backed by a string quartet and bolstered by an empathetic rhythm section, playing the music of Norwegian composer Vidar Johansen with a melodious light heart you wouldn't expect. The music is delightful from start to finish (only "Brainstorm veers from the harmonious mood). The strings seemingly offer validation and legitimacy, and Simmons finally gets the respect he's been due. With a gorgeous piano introduction and swelling violins, Simmons comes in for a perfectly calibrated noirish solo on the aptly titled "Sunset, closing this wonderful effort with a song that's sure to stay with you.

Tracks and Personnel:

The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings

Tracks: CD1: Metamorphosis; A Distant Voice; City Of David; Interplanetary Travelers; interviews; CD2: Resolutions; Zarak's Symphony; Balladia; Dolphy's Days; interviews.

Personnel: CD1: Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone; Barbara Donald: trumpet; John Hicks: piano; Teddy Smith: bass; Marvin Patillo: drums; CD2: Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone; Barbara Donald: trumpet; Bert Wilson: tenor saxophone; Michael Cohen: piano; Juney Booth: bass; James Zitro: drums.

The Traveller

Tracks: Humphrey; Armada; Spheres; Duet; Brainstorm; Sunset.

Personnel: Sonny Simmons: alto sax, English horn; Anders Aarum: piano; Mats Eilersten: double bass; Ole-Thomas Kolberg: drums; Harald Aadland, Eileen Siegel: violin; Bendik Foss; viola; Kari Ravnan: cello; Vidar Johansen: flute, conductor.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Jazzing Up Childhood Memories Multiple Reviews
Jazzing Up Childhood Memories
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 4, 2018
Read The Art of the Quintet: Voro Garcia and Magnus Thuelund Multiple Reviews
The Art of the Quintet: Voro Garcia and Magnus Thuelund
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 2, 2018
Read The Eclectic Sounds of ears&eyes Multiple Reviews
The Eclectic Sounds of ears&eyes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 27, 2018
Read Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic Multiple Reviews
Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams Multiple Reviews
Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 23, 2018
Read A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama Multiple Reviews
A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out" Multiple Reviews Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic" Multiple Reviews Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Guitars on Three Continents" Multiple Reviews Guitars on Three Continents
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa" Multiple Reviews Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants" Multiple Reviews The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "A Sense of Place" Multiple Reviews A Sense of Place
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 12, 2017