Reviews that mention Sonny Simmons

February 11, 2019

Eric Dolphy

Musical Prophet
Resonance Records HCD-2035

Dealing with a musical project like this is for instance not unlike how a scholar would approach a new edition of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps if heretofore unpublished material and alternate drafts were included in the publication.

Attractively recorded and packaged, including a 98-page booklet featuring interviews with the peers and musical descendents of Eric Dolphy (1928-1964) Musical Prophet includes a three-CD set consisting intact of two of the multi-instrumentalist’s most iconic 1963 LPs: Iron Man and Conversations; an entire disc of seven previously unissued alternate takes from the same sessions; plus three previous unissued bonus tracks. There are two takes of the formerly unknown “Muses for Richard Davis”, a duet between Dolphy on bass clarinet and bassist Davis from the same session that produced the long celebrated “Ode to Charlie Parker” and “Alone Together” tracks on the original LPs, plus a real oddity from the next year, 3½ months before Dolphy untimely death. It features the reedist as part of a New Music/improvised performance from Ann Arbor where his horns were used as contrapuntal voices on a composition by pianist Bob James, then still an experimenter and long before he became the Roger Williams of Smooth Jazz, with the other players bassist Ron Brooks, drummer Robert Pozar and countertenor (!) David Schwartz. MORE

November 16, 2012

Sonny Simmons/François Tusques

Near the Oasis
Improvising Beings ib10

Silke Eberhard/Dave Burrell


Jazzwerkstatt JW 112

One European and one American musician face off on these live duo sessions, each of which matches a woodwind player with a pianist. While the results are equally simpatico, the couplings couldn’t be more dissimilar.

For a start Near the Oasis, recorded at New York’s Vision Festival, features two veterans of the Free Jazz wars performing together for the first time in North America on a program of mostly reconstituted Bop classics. The saxophonist/English hornist is Louisiana-born Sonny Simmons, 79, who was part of the New Thing in the early 1960s, and has lived in France for the past decade. His partner is Paris-based pianist François Tusques, who came to Free Jazz around the same time as Simmons, and over the years has played with a clutch of memorable European and American innovators. MORE

June 10, 2011

Sonny Simmons and Delphine Latil

Symphony of the Peacocks
Improvising Beings ib04

By Ken Waxman

Symphony of the Peacocks may be the oddest entry in the discography of reedist Sonny Simmons, who has been recording for about half a century. It’s not that he plays English horn as well as alto saxophone here or even that at one point he sings. This CD is unique because the only accompaniment for Simmons’ playing is the concert harp of Delphine Latil. A graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris who usually plays in chamber music and orchestral circumstances, the 23-year-old harpist adapts her style to follow 75-year-old Simmons’ eccentric soloing. Still this May-December – perhaps February-December would be more appropriate – musical pairing seems to work most of the time. MORE

February 29, 2008

Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut

The Digital Box 200 Series
Overview Notes by Ken Waxman

If any one musician arguably epitomizes cooperative total improvisation in the 21st Century, then it’s New York-based guitarist and keyboardist Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut. As this set of CDs demonstrates, the 40-year-old Long Island-native is totally enveloped by music, and each session here is one variant in his long-standing attempt to capture the sound of his city… and the cosmos.

\x09“Community is the most important thing about this entire exchange,” Shurdut says about his performances, “and anyone who has played with me knows they’re welcome to bring friends.” More than 70 improvisers have recorded with the multi-instrumentalist over the years, ranging from neophytes to veteran free jazzers such as reedman and trumpeter Daniel Carter, who often plays with bassist William Parker; saxophonist Blaise Siwula; and former Cecil Taylor drummer Marc Edwards. MORE

January 16, 2006


Frozen Ropes
Barking Hoop BKH-009

The Traveller
Jazzaway JARCD 011

Recording with strings seems be the secret desire of every saxophonist, at least ever since Charlie Parker did his famous BIRD WITH STRINGS sessions in the 1950s. These two CDs, recorded almost simultaneously, but in different countries, show how two veteran alto players of the first and second wave of the avant garde adapt to variations of this setting.

Sonny Simmons, 72, who first recorded with fellow California saxist Prince Lasha back in 1962, chooses the accepted with-strings formula. This session from Oslo playing over harmonies composed, arranged and conducted by flautist Vidar Johansen and interpreted by the Kringkastningsorkesteret of two violins, a viola and a cello. MORE

August 23, 2004


Cosmosamatics Three
Boxholder BXH 041

Ayler AYL006-CD

A versatile, but unappreciated multi-reedman, New York-based Michael Marcus proves that he can hold his own alongside Free Jazz legends on these CDs.

Not only that, but a comparison of the two discs -- one recorded in 1993 and the other in 2002 and 2003 -- shows a remarkable consistency in his approach to improvisations. THREE is probably the more challenging, since Marcus, who is part of Saxemble as well as leading his own groups, shares the front line of the Cosmosamatics with Sonny Simmons. MORE

August 24, 2000

Sonny Simmons

Manhattan Egos
Arhoolie CD 483

So-called free jazz has finally been around long enough to be acknowledged as an important style that can be drawn on by many contemporary performers. Despite the best efforts of the neo-cons to try to nullify its lineage and existence, important sessions like this one keep being reissued.

Manhattan Egos is an excellent sound picture of that little documented time following the deaths of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and before the resurgence of free music with folk like John Zorn and William Parker. It proves once again that the line against fuzzy fusion and mirror image retrobop was being held not only in New York and Europe, but also in outposts like Berkeley, Calif. by the likes of Sonny Simmons.