SONNY SIMMONS
The Complete ESP Disk Recordings

[ESP Disk, www.espdisk.com]

The Traveller
[Jazzaway, www.jazzaway.com]

Sonny Simmons has always been somewhat of an outsider. While players like Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman got their due in the 60's, Simmons' music boiled just beneath the surface. Being in his mid 70's, is he finally getting his due this late in life? One of my personal favourite Sonny Simmons moments on record was his enormous contribution to Eric Dolphy's 1963 recording "Iron Man". Fully alive and cognizant of his enormous powers on alto, Simmons blew all hell out of that large ensemble. Along with Clifford Jordan and Bobby Hutcherson, it was Simmons that actually shaped that record. Three years down the road, he made his first two [and in fact, only two] recordings for the blossoming ESP imprint. "The Complete ESP Disk Recordings" collects two 1966 sessions Simmons recorded for ESP: "Staying on the Watch" and "Music of the Spheres". Both are excellent examples of his wind prowess - his sheer jubilant force. Mad, bad-ass blowing is executed all over the course of these two albums. Check out the first disc for his mad blowing technique. The way he tackles his music is not unlike some of Don Cherry's late 60's best dates. When Simmons blows, he abandons this world forever. It's almost for certain he's blocking all communication with this world and taking things to the next level. Sure, he communicates with his band. Check out his rough interplay with trumpeter Barbara Donald on "City of David". Donald has these marvelous bursts of potent energy within her that she releases when things are too smooth, too comfortable. Pianist John Hicks is a real madman. For the duration of the first disc, he pounds the keys madly, forcing them into submission, while the quintet plays all around him. Second release "Music of the Spheres" is no less exhilarating. While Simmons remains firm in his solos, Barbara Donald once again plays furious solos on the trumpet. Though some of the fury remains from the earlier session, Simmons also slows things down and plays in mid-tempo for a few minutes at a time. Pianist Michael Cohen is not as aggressive on the keys as John Hicks, though he does have some moments in the spotlight [check out his clusters on "Balladia"]. The only distraction on this re-issue is about 40 minutes worth of interviews with Simmons. It would have been better to devote an exclusive disc to Simmon's ramblings on everyone from Eric Dolphy, Barbara Donald and new music in general. Otherwise, the pacing of the music is brisk and the sounds are sweltering with the sweat of utter commitment and passion. "The Complete ESP Disk Recordings" reminds us of Simmons at his peak form.
"The Traveller" proves that European labels are more willing than American ones in taking a risk in going with a player who has remained daring. Jazzaway Records put Simmons together with a string quartet to come up with this session. This doesn't mean that the strings take over the mood of the record. Far from it. Simmons flexes his alto muscle more often than not, showing everyone present that he's the boss. Throughout the disc, he makes bold, often rousing statements on alto and English horn. Even on a gentler piece like "Brainstorm", he's all fire and brimstone. When the pace picks up, there's no stopping him. No real conflicts arise between the string quartet and Simmons. A few jagged moments but that's all. Otherwise, the two factions work in unison. In the autumn of his life, Simmons can truly play a mean ballad. Check out the closing number "Sunset" for proof. Gently rolling, measured- out poignant lines escape from his horn. Majestic beauty. It's worthy to note that "The Traveller" is only the first part of a trilogy. Other two parts are due out later this year.

- Tom Sekowski


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RECENZJE

+ The Thing - Live At Bla / The Thing w/Joe McPhee - She Knows...
+ eRikm - Sixpériodes
+ Toshiya Tsunoda - Ridge of Undulation
+ Nash Kontroll - Your Left Hand Just Expoded
+ Jacques Berrocal - Catalogue
+ Jason Kahn - Sihl
+ Rick Reed - Dark Skies at Noon
+ Mountains - Sewn
+ Robert Piotrowicz - Rurokura and the Final Warn
+ Insiememusicadiversa - Insiememusicadiversa
+ Makoto Kawabata - Inui. 3
+ Shalabi Effect - Unfortunately
+ Allen/Drake/Jordan/Parker/Silva - The All-Star Game
+ Parker/Budbill/Drake - Songs for a Suffering World
+ Yura Yura Teikoku - na.ma.shi.bi.re. na.ma.me.ma.i
+ AGF.3 + Sue.C - Mini Movies
+ Ellen Allien & Apparat - Orchestra Of Bubbles
+ Do You Copy?
+ Datapunk Rockstars - Klartext / Anthony Rother - Compression
+ Terence Fixmer - Silence Control
+ Fovea Hex - Bloom
+ Gigolo Compilation Vol. 9
+ Markus Guentner - Lovely Society
+ Oliver Huntemann - Fieber
+ Modern Institute - Exellent Swimmer
+ Far Away From Jamaica
+ Kaito - Hundred Million Lights Years
+ Druga Strona Lustra - Język żywiołów
+ Daniel Meteo - Peruments
+ Mirror - Still Valley
+ Organum - Die Hennen Zaehne
+ Quintron & Miss Pussycat - Swamp Tech
+ Miller + Fiam - Modern Romance
+ Peter Grummich - Rave D'Amour / Jerry Abstract - Mudtsmut
+ Bodzin & Huntemann - Black / X-Lover - Lovesucker / Trike - Polytron / Hell Presents My Definition Of House Music: 33 1/3 Queen/Earth People
+ Asmus Tietchens - Seuchengebiete
+ Andy Vaz - Repetitive Moments Last Forever
+ Światogor - Tym Co Rodzimej Tradycji Wciąż Wierni
+ Květy - Jablko Jejiho Peř

- - - - - - - - -

+ PROSWELL & WWCARPEN - Proswell & Wwcarpen / ANDREY KIRITCHENKO - True Delusion / ATOM AND PINK ELLN - Live - Volumes 2 & 3 / BAUCHKLANG - Barking News / Rhythm of Time / TOMAS KORBER / KEITH ROWE / GUNTER MULLER - Fibre
+ LOKA - Fire Shepherds
+ DARSOMBRA - Ecdysis
+ THE ETERNALS - High Anxiety - Remix EP
+ DISKAHOLICS - Live in Japan, Vol. 1 / IMPRACTICAL COCKPIT - To Be Treated
+ DAT Politics - Wow Twist
+ V.A. - Suburb the Record Label - Limited Edition Sampler, Vol. 1 / ROBERT RICH & IAN BODDY - Lithosphere / RICHARD GARET / DALE LLOYD / JOS SMOLDERS / UBEBOET - Territorium
+ THE APPARITIONS - As This is Futuristic
+ JOE MORRIS QUARTET - Beautiful Existence
+ MARBLE SHEEP - The Gate of a Heavenly Body / WATUSI ZOMBIE - Buddha Mask Experience / AURAL FIT - Livestock
+ DAVE REMPIS / TIM DAISY - Back to the Circle
+ PSYCHIC ILLS - Dins
>> SONNY SIMMONS - The Complete ESP Disk Recordings / The Traveller
+ MOLE HARNESS - A Present From The Future
+ JACQUES DEMIERRE / BARRY GUY / LUCAS NIGGLI - Brainforest
+ ODYSSEY THE BAND - Back in Time
+ SUN RA ARKESTRA - The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: Cymbals / Crystal Spears ; Pathways to Unknown Worlds / Friendly Love ; When Angels Speak of Love / SUN RA - Spaceship Lullaby
+ MIMINOKOTO - Orange Garage
+ V.A. - Earsugar Jukebox Series
+ MAXIMO PARK - Missing Songs
+ FREDERIC LE JUNTER - Chansons Impopulaires
+ THE HERBALISER - Fabriclive 26 / CARL CRAIG - Fabric2

- - - - - - - - -

WYWIADY / RELACJE

+ Otwarta struktura - Tymański Yass Ensemble - wywiad
+ Najważniejsze są improwizacje - Sing Sing Penelope - wywiad
+ U szczytu energii - Pink Freud - wywiad