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Hardbopjazz

Happy Birthday, Sonny Simmons.

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Happy 87th Mr. Simmons. 
Any recommendations of recordings with him?  

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Start with The ESP Records and then move to Ancient Ritual.

Those are epochal. From there, there are no wrong answers, in between or afterwards, really. but those are the two answers that will always be right.

Keep in mind that I'm one of the people who want to hear everything he's on, period. Love the way the guy plays.

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Firebirds with Prince Lasha -- and Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, and Charles Moffett.

Fantastic.

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Sonny Simmons is one of America's most under-valued musicians. It's amazing he's still with us. Recommended recordings:

• The Cry (Contemporary) 1962
• Staying On The Watch (ESP) 1966
• Music From The Spheres (ESP) 1966
• Firebirds (Contemporary) 1967
• Rumasuma (Contemporary) 1969
• Burning Spirits (Contemporary) 1970

And, yes, all the recordings thereafter (especially from the 90's).

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"Ancient Ritual" is the most miraculous album ever.  One because it's great.  Two because Simmons had dropped from public view (or at least my view) 20 years before.  Three because it was put out on Quincy Jones's Qwest label.  I couldn't believe it when I saw the CD in a store on a college campus in Philly.  I agree with all of the above recommendations, would probably start with the Contemporary titles, go to the ESP's, and keep going.

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I love Sonny Simmons. Firebirds with Prince Lasha and Ancient Ritual were my entry points and they're the ones I would start with. They are different enough in setting and period that you get a good well rounded picture. 

There's a documentary out there about him on Amazon called "The Multiple X-Rated Truth". It has lots of footage of him and, weirdly, Anthony Braxton. It's compellingly unpolished as a documentary and worth tracking down. 

Edited by Rabshakeh

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If Firebirds had been on Blue Note, it’d be regularly as a freebop classic.

Ancient Ritual is excellent too.

Edited by Guy Berger

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Love Simmons! Don't forget his (eight!) Cosmosamatics quartet releases (with Michael Marcus).   

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3 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

If Firebirds had been on Blue Note, it’d be regularly as a freebop classic.

There's a bunch of those. Records like The Quest by Mal Waldron that just get swept under the carpet because they're not on Blue Note. 

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28 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

There's a bunch of those. Records like The Quest by Mal Waldron that just get swept under the carpet because they're not on Blue Note. 

I feel a new thread coming on...

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12 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

I love Sonny Simmons. Firebirds with Prince Lasha and Ancient Ritual were my entry points and they're the ones I would start with. They are different enough in setting and period that you get a good well rounded picture. 

There's a documentary out there about him on Amazon called "The Multiple X-Rated Truth". It has lots of footage of him and, weirdly, Anthony Braxton. It's compellingly unpolished as a documentary and worth tracking down. 

I picked up a copy of that DVD at the NYC Downtown Music Gallery years ago. It has been gathering dust - must rewatch. Quite interesting, as I recall.

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I actually got to see Sonny Simmons live once at the Iridium. It was a double bill with David Murray, so they alternated sets, and I stayed for four sets.

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On 06/08/2020 at 3:38 AM, felser said:

"Ancient Ritual" is the most miraculous album ever.  One because it's great.  Two because Simmons had dropped from public view (or at least my view) 20 years before.  Three because it was put out on Quincy Jones's Qwest label.  I couldn't believe it when I saw the CD in a store on a college campus in Philly.  I agree with all of the above recommendations, would probably start with the Contemporary titles, go to the ESP's, and keep going.

Got a copy on the way. I couldn't ignore such a strong recommendation as that, thanks John

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Happy Birthday,  Sonny Simmons.   1983-87, I worked at Market and (New) Montgomery in San Francisco.  He used to play outside my window, sound echoing off the buildings.  Such a treat.  We talked briefly a few times.   Back then,  I was a guy in a suit; tough to convince anyone I was sincere.   So glad he's had a musically productive life.  

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4 hours ago, BeBop said:

Happy Birthday,  Sonny Simmons.   1983-87, I worked at Market and (New) Montgomery in San Francisco.  He used to play outside my window, sound echoing off the buildings.  Such a treat.  We talked briefly a few times.   Back then,  I was a guy in a suit; tough to convince anyone I was sincere.   So glad he's had a musically productive life.  

My parents lived in the Bay Area then, and I also believe I saw him playing outside in SF around Market St. one time, 5-10 years earlier.  Did not try to engage him at all.

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The stories about seeing/meeting Simmons in San Francisco in the 80's are intriguing to me. In 1985, I was in downtown San Francisco as part of a YMCA trip (I was 15) when I stopped to listen to an alto saxophonist playing on the street. I had just started seriously listening to jazz music, the alto in particular, and my entry points were Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. (Bird came a little later.) I ended up chatting with the street musician, and he told me that he'd played with Dolphy. I had a hard time believing that — Dolphy had been dead for over twenty years! Only decades later did I realize that the street musician may have been Sonny Simmons, and he was just sharing his history with me.

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50 minutes ago, Late said:

The stories about seeing/meeting Simmons in San Francisco in the 80's are intriguing to me. In 1985, I was in downtown San Francisco as part of a YMCA trip (I was 15) when I stopped to listen to an alto saxophonist playing on the street. I had just started seriously listening to jazz music, the alto in particular, and my entry points were Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. (Bird came a little later.) I ended up chatting with the street musician, and he told me that he'd played with Dolphy. I had a hard time believing that — Dolphy had been dead for over twenty years! Only decades later did I realize that the street musician may have been Sonny Simmons, and he was just sharing his history with me.

there's something about San Francisco street musicians; some time in the 1980s I saw DuPree Bolton playing out there.

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those are the two that made history... or is there a well-known #3?

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just to note Simmons was part of a panel, maybe last Fall, at Lincoln Center. He was in a wheel chair, but mentally completely on top of things.

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3 hours ago, AllenLowe said:

there's something about San Francisco street musicians; some time in the 1980s I saw DuPree Bolton playing out there.

Yes, I saw him too.  Really weird, he was often over near the Wharf, and sometimes down near the old Embarcadero Freeway.  It was a cool time to be in the City.  As I recall, Keystone Korner survived into the early 80s.

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This dude is heavy, and anytime I see one of his records, I jump on it, besides the ESP's, I have a weird one on some weird label. Don't understand why he's not in Don Ellis or Albert Ayler's world, he should be. 

 

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Posted (edited)

'Rumasuma' is badly in need of a CD issue.  Should have been a no-brainer OJC.  We've been waiting for over 30 years!  The other huge miss by OJC is 'Home' by Gary Bartz with Woody Shaw.

Edited by felser

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11 minutes ago, felser said:

'Rumasuma' is badly in need of a CD issue. Should have been a no-brainer OJC.

Agreed, but it (sadly) seems unlikely. It's Barbara Donald's finest hour in my opinion.

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